Tens of thousands of passengers hit by striking Swedish pilots

Scandinavian airline SAS cancelled a majority of its Swedish and European flights after pilots rejected an improved pay offer and their strike pushed into a fourth day. SAS said some 230 flights and 27,000 passengers would be affected by Monday’s action, adding to the 50,000 travellers who have been stranded since Swedish pilots walked out on Friday. Flights between Stockholm and Athens, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, London and Paris were cancelled on Monday. The strike began after Swedish pilots based in Stockholm rejected the airline’s offer of a 2.2 per cent wage increase, insisting on an increase of 3.5 per cent, and attempts by a mediator to broker a deal on Sunday failed.

The Swedish pilot union has turned down a second bid by the mediator, which SAS accepted.

An airline statement

SAS, which is 50 per cent owned by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian states, has said it has not calculated how much money it was losing because of the strike, but financial analysts have estimated it was costing the airline at least $1.2 million (€1.1 million) a day. The airline says all the pay and contract demands sought by pilots would result in a 10 per cent increase in its costs. However, the head of the pilots union, Martin Lindgren, said “the pilots have helped save billions” for the airline by going along with the 2012 recovery plan that included job cuts, salary reductions and administrative cutbacks.