Scandinavian carrier SAS has reached an agreement with its pilots which will end a two-week strike by cockpit crews.
The five-and-a-half year collective bargaining deal, covering all four SAS pilot unions, followed a renewed period of mediation after pilots commenced industrial action on 4 July.
SAS says the agreements “imply” higher productivity and flexibility in seasonal operations, and the terms yield a lower unit cost for the pilots.
It has committed to rehire – and subsequently fully employ – some 450 pilots during the operational ramp-up to 2024.
The airline adds that certain pending litigations initiated by the unions – or individual pilots – against the carrier “will be withdrawn”.
SAS has also granted the unions an unsecured pre-petition claim of SKr1 billion ($96 million), connected with a restructuring support agreement in the Chapter 11 process.
The airline says distributions will be capped at SKr100 million and made over the five-and-a-half year term of the collective agreement.
“Finally, we can resume normal operations and fly our customers on their much longed-for summer holidays,” says chief executive Anko van der Werff. “I deeply regret that so many of our passengers have been impacted by this strike.”
SAS says its flights will resume their normal traffic programme “as soon as possible”.
It states that the agreements are a “key element” of the extensive ‘SAS Forward’ restructuring programme, because they provide “stability and predictability” for potential investors. The company is expecting to finalise bridge funding to support the restructuring over the next few weeks.
SAS had warned that a failure to reach an agreement and end the strike quickly could threaten the future of the company. It puts the cost of the strike in excess of SKr1.5 billion.
“With these agreements in place, the pilots are doing their part in this difficult situation,” says van der Werff, adding that the strike has been “tough” for customers and employees.
All the pilot agreements have to be approved by the individual unions, as well as a US federal court given that the carrier is under Chapter 11 protection. SAS says it expect to secure these within weeks.