SAS: Talks continuing with Danish cabin crew

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Denmark's cabin crew union is still holding out in negotiations with SAS Group as the Scandinavian company seeks to secure vital new funding.

SAS Group had been preparing for possible collapse as it neared an 18 November deadline to reach a deal on an extensive cost-cutting plan.

With no agreements with unions in place the company yesterday ordered its aircraft to be fuelled for return to their Scandinavian bases and instructed crew members to carry cash to pay for hotels and transport.

"We couldn't be certain of the outcome [of union talks]," says an SAS spokeswoman. "We still had to take responsibility for securing our assets - our aircraft and personnel."

But SAS Group appears to be making progress with the union discussions, having secured deals with seven of the eight groups with which it is talking.

The eight unions comprise the three main pilot unions for Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the three main cabin crew unions, and two smaller pilot and cabin crew groups in Norway, inherited after the acquisition of Braathens.

SAS Group says the Danish cabin crew union CAU has yet to reach an agreement.

After SAS unveiled details of its restructuring plan, designated 4XNG, the CAU pointed out that it had entered a new pact - including wage freezes - only four months ago to provide SAS with "emergency first aid".

"We are concerned with maintaining the quality demanded by customers," the union added, although it said it was "willing to listen to management" regarding the challenges the company was facing.