Mediation talks grind on as SAS pilots strike enters seventh day

Annual profit could be wiped out due to job action

Mediation talks grind on as SAS pilots strike enters seventh day
Norwegian mediator, Mats Wilhelm Ruland, speaks to the media on May 1 ahead of the talks between the parties in the SAS pilot strike in Oslo. Fredrik Hagen/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

OSLO (Reuters) — Scandinavian airline SAS and unions were locked in overnight mediation talks as a pilot strike that has grounded almost 400,000 passengers entered its seventh day on Thursday.

SAS has cancelled more than 700 flights scheduled for Thursday.

“The will is there to solve the situation,” Norwegian Pilots’ Union President Yngve Carlsen told reporters on his way in to the Norwegian state mediator’s office where the parties worked overnight to try to resolve the dispute.

“I am more optimistic now than I was yesterday,” Carlsen added, but declined to offer a timeline as to when the strike could end.

The pilots are seeking higher wages and have other demands. The aviation industry’s employer body in Sweden has said pilots demanded a 13 per cent wage hike, despite what it called already high average wages of 93,000 Swedish crowns (US$9,754) a month.

Analysts estimate the stand-off over wages and other demands by pilots in Sweden, Norway and Denmark could cost SAS as much as US$10.5 million a day, threatening to wipe out the airline’s annual profit in short order.

SAS shares, whose primary listing in Stockholm which was closed on May 1, were up eight per cent on Thursday on the news of the resumption of talks.

More than 4,000 flights have been cancelled affecting some 380,000 travelers since the strike began on April 26.

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