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​SAS eyes new phase of labour relations after costly strike

Star Alliance carrier SAS has called on unions and management to find new ways of dealing with conflict in the future after a costly pilot strike.

The group estimates the cost to this year’s earnings of a week-long walkout by pilots at SKr650 million ($68 million). Around 370,000 passengers were affected by the grounding of 4,000 flights.

“I hope that when the dust settles and everybody in SAS can see the enormous impact it has on our earnings and our reputation with customers, that we realise this is not the way forward,” chief executive Rickard Gustafson told analysts during a second quarter results call. The group earlier said the strike was one of the reasons that would make it challenging to achieve a profit this year.

“Most of our employees are seeking some sort of job security and the only job security that is worth anything on paper is our ability to be competitive and embarking on strikes would do the opposite.”

He therefore calls for a “more modern” way of dealing with union relationships and said all sides had to now work together to rebuild bridges within the company, adding that some staff groups were also disappointed with the pilots’s actions. The company is organising activities to bring staff together, Gustafson says.

Chief financial officer Torbjorn Wist adds the strikes are the main reason behind the group's reduction in its capacity plans for this year. SAS will now shrink capacity by 1% this year, instead of previous plans for growth of 2-3%.

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