Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Scandinavian Airlines cancels hundreds of flights after pilots strike

SAS's shares fell as much as 3.6 per cent

A flight information board shows cancelled flights because of Scandinavian Airlines' pilots strike at Copenhagen Airport on Friday. EPA
A flight information board shows cancelled flights because of Scandinavian Airlines' pilots strike at Copenhagen Airport on Friday. EPA

Scandinavian Airlines was forced to abandon the bulk of its flight schedule on Friday as pilots across Scandinavia walked out over pay, disrupting travel plans for tens of thousands of people.

Its shares fell as much as 3.6 per cent after 673 domestic, European and long-haul flights were cancelled on Friday. The dispute affects Scandinavian Airlines hubs in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, the airline said in statement.

The airline's pilots began the action after rejecting measures proposed by a mediator in talks that have been going on since March. The Stockholm-based company said it still “wishes to continue negotiations and reach an agreement to end the strike as soon as possible.”

The walkout underlines the pressure facing network airlines, such as Scandinavian, as they seek to bring down costs amid competition from discount rivals and Europe-wide overcapacity that’s weighing on fares. The Nordic region has become a particularly tough battleground, with Iceland’s Wow Air and leisure carrier Primera Air going out of business and discount carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA scrapping routes and delaying jet orders to help ease its debt burden.

“The competition is tough, and with a European economy moving at a slower pace, SAS [Scandinavian Airlines] may have to fight hard to turn a profit this year,” Jacob Pedersen, an analyst at Sydbank, wrote. He lowered his recommendation on the shares.

The strike will hit 70 per cent of flights and about 72,000 passengers, according to the carrier. Services operated by partner airlines and the Scandinavian Airlines’ Ireland unit are unaffected.

Updated: April 26, 2019 12:30 PM

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