September 13, 2017 / 11:07 AM / 10 months ago

SAS chief hopes to end token strike before flights disrupted

OSLO (Reuters) - Scandinavian airline SAS hopes to end a token strike by two pilots in Norway before hundreds more follow suit and stop work, Chief Executive Rickard Gustafson said on Wednesday.

The two pilots began a strike on Monday over pay and working hours and two unions representing 559 SAS pilots in Norway have threatened action on Thursday, halting flights in a key market, unless a deal is reached.

The unions say they are demanding conditions similar to those of colleagues in Denmark and Sweden, including more predictable working hours and two weekends off a month.

“We can’t sit still and accept that Norwegian pilots should be treated differently,” the Parat union said in a statement.

“The company is in a difficult position and a conflict would be very serious to us,” Gustafson told Reuters.

“The demands from pilots would raise our costs in Norway by 20-25 percent ... it’s impossible for us to accept.”

The parties are currently meeting with a state-appointed mediator in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

However, the airline has already cancelled some 100 flights in Norway on Thursday.

“Because of a possible escalation of the strike, SAS is taking the precaution of cancelling around 100 flights tomorrow (Thursday) until 1400 (1200 GMT),” SAS said on its Norwegian website.

SAS is headquartered in Sweden and operates from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, serving destinations in Europe, Asia and North America.

Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Edmund Blair, Greg Mahlich

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