SAS pilots are not disposable

25 Oct 2021

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) stands in solidarity with SAS pilots and their unions and condemns actions being taken by SAS that worsen income and working condition for workers, allowing worrying threats of social dumping to creep in what is regarded world-wide as the high quality Scandinavian social model.

Imagine a situation where your employer fires you and a lot of your colleagues because of a crisis provoked by both a virus and poor decision-making; then they propose to rehire some of you for less money, worse working condition provided that you learn how to operate a completely different airplane, and you would need to fund your own training after months of furlough or unemployment. Unfair right? This is what is happening to SAS pilots in Scandinavia.

The Scandinavian legacy carrier SAS fired 560 pilots since the beginning of the pandemic, which accounts for 40% of the pilot workforce. While they per collective agreement are entitled a rehire, the airline has meanwhile established two new companies, SAS Connect and SAS Link, both registered in Ireland, which would be the new employer through staffing agencies. These companies will be based at current SAS bases in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm. Moreover, the airline is undergoing a fleet change from B737 to A320, and the new airplanes will be placed within these new companies, reducing the SAS fleet from 100 to 39 short-haul airplanes.

Pilots who were fired are not being re-hired and must re-apply for their previous jobs on new terms and conditions via SAS Connect Crew Services or SAS Link Crew Services (fully owned SAS staffing agencies) and re-starting their careers from the bottom. It is also likely that very few fired pilots will be employed by the new companies, as SAS management wants to evade business transfer laws in Scandinavia.

It comes as no surprise that the SAS pilots would be rehired under worse terms and conditions and new requirements, such as a specific training to fly Airbus aircraft, which they have to pay for themselves.