SAS has mobilised its full customer service capacity as it deals with the ongoing strike by Swedish Pilots which began on Friday when ongoing negotiations broke down.
On Monday, flights operated by SAS with Swedish pilots were cancelled due to a continued pilot strike, resulting in 230 flight cancellations and 27,000 passengers stranded. The Swedish pilot union SPF turned down a second bid by the mediator, which SAS accepted.
The airline has announced further cancellations on Tuesday affecting another 240 flights and 25,500 passengers.
“We have done all that’s in our power to avoid a continued strike, but we have unfortunately still been unable to come to an agreement. Our main priority now is to keep taking care of our customers and are working vigilantly to do everything we can to assist passengers affected” says Karin Nyman, Vice President Communications at SAS in a company statement issued to the press.
This Sunday alone, the airline reports, the strike led to the cancellation of 220 domestic and European flights with 26,000 passengers affected.
On Saturday the airline was forced to cancel 159 flights, affecting 20,000 passengers; 40 flights were cancelled on Friday evening, affecting 4,000 passengers, when the SPF union called on all members to strike.
“I sincerely apologize to all SAS-customers, Swedish Pilot Union have decided to go on strike. This affects passengers who are an innocent third party in this conflict,” says Nyman.
The negotiations began in April of this year but as of Friday were unresolved, though SAS had offered Swedish pilots a contract on par with the agreement concluded with Norwegian pilots on Thursday. SAS says it had already accepted “a number of the pilot association’s demands, such as a new salary scale, the salary review within the context of the framework of the central salary settlement in Sweden and changing leisure and part-time rules.”
SPF in Sweden chose to call 400 pilots out on strike, rather than continue the mediation which has been ongoing for the past two weeks in an attempt to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution to the labour conflict.
“It is deeply regrettable that our customers are affected by this conflict. We have been responsive to the pilot association’s requirements and offered a contract in line with the Norwegian pilot agreement. Despite this, the pilot association chose conflict. Our top priority now is to take care of those passengers affected by the strike and help them in the best possible way,” adds Nyman.
Domestic and European flights operated by Danish and Norwegian pilots, and those flights operated by SAS partners, continue to operate normally. SAS flights from Arlanda to U.S. and Asia destinations were unaffected.
Customer Communications Ramp Up
The airline has mobilised all its resources to help customers deal with the ongoing disruptions to their travel plans including communications on its website and by email, text message, and social media.
As of Sunday afternoon, the airline reported that all available SAS employees were staffing the airline’s Customer Services department, with extra staff assigned to the airline’s social media accounts to help as many passengers as possible get answers to their queries.
On Saturday, SAS reports that it had 10,000 calls to its Customer Service line; SAS staff also answered more than 3,000 comments on Facebook in 10 minutes or less over the weekend.
“We encourage all passengers to continuously monitor developments via our website or SAS social media and ensure to have up to date travel information before travelling to the airport,” says Nyman.
The airline is also encouraging stranded passengers to make their own hotel and meal arrangements and to keep receipts for reimbursement, via the Customer Care department.