SAS pilot strike strands thousands of passengers in Copenhagen
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Hundreds of Scandinavian Airlines pilots went on strike in Copenhagen on Monday, forcing the carrier to cancel 270 flights and leaving thousands of passengers stranded, company officials said.In Norway, sister airline SAS Braathens had to cancel about 100 flights after dozens of pilots called in sick. “It cannot be ruled out that the high sickness absence in SAS Braathens is connected to what is happening in Copenhagen,” the Norwegian airline said in a statement.Scandinavian Airlines canceled all outgoing European flights from Copenhagen until noon Tuesday because it had received no sign that the pilots intended to return to work in the morning, said Anne Bove Nielsen, a spokeswoman for SAS Denmark. She said intercontinental flights were not affected by the wildcat strike.”About 20,000 customers were affected. They have been given possibility to rebook on other airlines or stay at hotels” in the Danish capital, she said.The pilots said they are protesting plans to replace a collective bargaining agreement with separate agreements in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The pilots in Denmark fear that would lead to layoffs and worsening job conditions.”Many feel that this is an attempt to break the unions,” Mogens Holgaard, a spokesman for the pilots told Danish broadcaster DR.It was not clear exactly how many pilots went on strike, but Bove Nielsen said “several hundred” walked off the job, including all or most of the airline’s Danish pilots.The strike came after three days of bad weather with strong winds and snow that forced the airline to cancel more than 400 flights out of Copenhagen.Scandinavian Airlines is the joint carrier of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, owned by Swedish airline group SAS AB.Shares of SAS closed down 5 percent at 104 kronor on the Stockholm exchange.—Associated Press reporter Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.