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  • SAS not obliged to compensate over pilots' strike

SAS not obliged to compensate over pilots' strike

Sweden's consumer disputes board has ruled that the April-May pilot strike at Scandinavian operator SAS does not oblige the carrier to pay compensation to passengers.

The disputes board, ARN, has assessed the situation and decided that the strike amounted to an "extraordinary event" under European Union regulations.

SAS proved that it had "done everything that is reasonable" to avert the industrial action before cancelling flights, it states.

ARN based its ruling on a single case – cancellation of a Stockholm-Alicante flight on 30 April – in which SAS opposed paying European Union delay compensation. The airline had already reimbursed the cost of new tickets on another carrier after being unable to rebook the affected passengers.

"The decision is indicative of ARN's future assessments," the board says, pointing out that it has received some 350 notifications from travellers affected by the strike.

SAS pilots carried out the strike between 26 April and 2 May this year resulting in the cancellation of nearly 4,000 flights across Scandinavia.

The [airline] has proved that the strike was an extraordinary event that was beyond the company's control," says ARN chief Marcus Isgren.

SAS says it "welcomes" the decision by the disputes board, but adds that the issue remains one of "major importance" to airlines and passengers in other EU member states.

"It is worrying that courts in the member states have different interpretations as to whether a strike is an extraordinary event [under EU compensation regulations] and that passengers therefore have different rights to compensation, depending on where they're from," the carrier says, adding that it wants to see the situation addressed by the European Court of Justice.

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