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SAS Strike in Sweden

Cancelled flights at Stockholm's Arlanda airport

Cabin staff at Scandinavian Airlines in Sweden began a strike Friday which will continue into Saturday, grounding hundreds of European and domestic flights after talks between unions and management broke down.

The contract dispute forced the cancellation of some 300 domestic and international flights with an expected 20,000 travellers affected.

The union representing Swedish cabin crew has been locked in a dispute with the airline and a last ditch effort to come to an agreement broke down at midnight on Friday after the union rejected the latest offer from the airline’s management of a 10.2 % payrise over three years.

The union says the differences are over working hours and conditions.

The strike comes as SAS struggles to return to profit after years of losses, and follows a wildcat strike by Danish cabin crew at the airline’s main hub in Copenhagen which paralysed traffic last month.

Customer loyalty has also been the focus of reports in the lead-up to the strike. A number of corporate heavyweights such as electronics giant Electrolux, and telecom equipment maker Ericsson have threatened to switch their corporate travel to other airlines in the future if the strike went ahead.

SAS, which is jointly owned by the governments of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, is Europe’s 5th largest carrier and operates airlines in the Nordic and Baltic countries and Spain.

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