SAS talks set to continue through night

Management agrees to extend negotiations over restructuring beyond Sunday deadline after talks with pilots and cabin crews appear to make progress

November 19th, 2012 12:20 am| by admin

Negotiations between employee representatives and the management of SAS will continue through the night after a day of hectic activity at the airline’s Copenhagen offices appeared to result in progress towards a deal that would allow the company to save the 2.8 billion kroner annually it needs to keep operating.

SAS had given unions until today to accept a restructuring deal that would see their wages cut an average of 12 percent and 800 jobs in Denmark, Sweden and Norway slashed. After initially rejecting the management’s offer, pilots from all three countries said today they had submitted their “final offer”, stating that “nothing else was coming”.

“We’ve offered them a deal that agrees to accept wages that are far lower than our main competitors’,” Lars Bjørkman, president of Dansk Pilotforening, told DR News. “If the management rejects this deal, it must mean that they don’t intend to keep SAS going.”

After being held out of negotiations all day, representatives from the Cabin Attendants Union (CAU) said at 11pm they had been asked by the management to return to talks, and that they were upbeat about the possibility of a solution being reached.

“The ball is back in our court, and we feel good about that,” CAU president Helge Thuesen told the press.

The CAU had submitted its own revised offer today. Despite management’s apparent initial rejection of both unions' offers, members of the board reportedly met in Stockholm this evening to discuss their next step.

They were also reported to have secured additional time from the airline’s primary bank lenders.

SAS has stated that it expects to continue normal operations on Monday, and experts said that even without an agreement it had enough funds to continue flying. But with continued uncertainty about the airline’s future, passengers were likely to avoid placing new reservations, which would only exacerbate its financial difficulties.

SAS planes taking off today were reportedly carrying full tanks in order to ensure that they would be able to return home, should the airline run into credit problems and be unable to purchase fuel.

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