April 27 (UPI) — Scandinavian Airlines canceled more than 600 flights worldwide after pilots went on strike Friday, affecting an estimated 72,000 passengers.
SAS canceled most domestic European and long-haul flights after the airline’s talks with the pilots union broke down. In a statement, the airline said it wants to resume talks as soon as possible to resolve the strike, but also accuses the pilots association of choosing “conflict” and forcing the airline to cancel 673 flights.
“It is deeply regretful that the pilots strike will have a negative impact on our customers,” SAS director of communications Karin Nyman said. “SAS is prepared to continue to negotiate, but if the requirements were to be met, they would have very negative consequences for the company.”
SAS Ireland and other subcontractors of SAS will not be affected by the strike. They represent about 30 percent of the airline’s flights.
The airline said it will do everything it can to help stranded passengers find other flights and has a special website with information. Affected passengers will be notified via email, and the status of flights is frequently updated.
Pilot union representatives said their demands were reasonable.
“They’re demonizing us and that makes the process more difficult,” said Wilhelm Tersmeden, chairman of the Swedish pilot association’s SAS branch. “Almost one in four SAS flights is flown by subcontractors and we want to know what our future looks like.”
The two sides have been locked in talks for several days with no resolution.
“It feels like a failure for everyone involved,” Tersmeden said. “We have failed the passengers. It’s about our jobs and our future.”