SAS, EasyJet Pilots Join Air France as Europe Hit by Strikes

  • Walkouts at SAS hamper continental flights for a fifth day
  • EasyJet crews halt work as Air France pilots continue stoppage

Swedish pilots flying for SAS AB, the owner of Scandinavian Airlines, prolonged a walkout over pay to a fifth day, joining cockpit crews at Air France-KLM Group in hampering travel in the opening week of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.

SAS will cancel 240 flights Tuesday, after 230 domestic Swedish and European services were scrapped Monday, bringing the total to 889 since Friday and affecting more than 100,000 passengers, the carrier said in a statement. The strike involves 400 members of the SPF union in a two-month-old dispute about salary and working hours. Flights operated by Danish and Norwegian pilots, partner airlines and long-haul services will operate, the airline said.

Flight information at Arlanda Airport near Stockholm
Flight information at Arlanda Airport near Stockholm
Photographer: Mikael Fritzon/AFP via Getty Images

Pilots flying for EasyJet Plc also plan to stop work Tuesday at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Dutch VNV union said, after labor leaders and the discount airline failed to agree on a contract for cockpit crews operating from the hub.

Strikes by Air France pilots, energy workers and garbage collectors dogged the opening weekend of the European soccer championship in France. A quarter of Air France’s pilots started a four-day strike Saturday, forcing cancellation of 20 percent of flights over the weekend. Carriers across the region are facing a wave of labor unrest as they try to cut staff costs to better compete with fast-growing European budget carriers as well as Middle Eastern rivals that siphon away intercontinental traffic.

SAS fell as much as 9.5 percent, and was trading down 7 percent as of 3:57 p.m. in Stockholm, after sliding more than 10 percent on Friday, when the company said low ticket prices and maintenance costs would keep it from boosting profitability as much as planned. It was the worst two-day drop for the stock in more than 2 1/2 years.

“Labor relations are tense and constrain management’s ability to drive costs lower,” while savings are needed to compete against low-cost carriers in the Nordic region, Andrew Lobbenberg and Joseph Thomas, analysts at HSBC analysts, said in a report to clients. 

The broker cut its recommendation for SAS shares to “hold” from “buy,” making SAS the only listed carrier in Europe alongside Air Berlin Plc that doesn’t have a single analyst advising investors to purchase the stock. Four analysts recommend clients that “hold” SAS, with one “sell.”

Air France pilots are striking through Tuesday night in a protest against the imposition of more work hours without additional pay. The airline said it will operate about 80 percent of its flights Monday and Tuesday. Employees at the carrier’s Dutch sister brand KLM aren’t halting work.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE