Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) today announced they have terminated the employment of 560 of its pilots. The laid-off SAS pilots, with recall rights as non-paid furloughed pilots, are based in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. This, according to a news announcement at Swedish TV station SVT.
At the end of April, SAS notified 5,000 employees (almost half its staff) of looming terminations. This as a result of the coronavirus crisis that has hit the airline.
April’s notification said the layoffs would affect 1,900 full-time employees in Sweden, 1,700 full-time employees in Denmark, and 1,300 full-time employees in Norway.
Now reality has set in for many of the airline’s pilots.
Swedish Pilot Association
“We are not impressed with how SAS has handled the process,”
says Martin Lindgren from the Swedish Pilot Association to SVT News.
Lindgren disagrees with the layoff decision:
“You have decided to go ahead with layoffs before looking at other alternatives. We cannot see that SAS has shown that it should reduce operations so much that it justifies so many pilots’ dismissal.”
Is SAS planning properly ahead by terminating 560 pilots?
In May, travelers to and from Swedavia’s airports fell by 98 percent compared to the same month last year.
Swedavia is a Swedish government-owned company. The company operates ten of the busiest airports in Sweden.
SAS has also announced increased flying schedule to European airports for the summer, awaiting further opportunities for restarting flights around the world. This is similar to the approach that about every other airline in the world employs at this time.
The coronavirus situation is unpredictable. Cost-cutting measures are necessary. Yet, the airline needs to be prepared to restart flying quickly when the situation allows.
The Swedish Pilots Association thinks that SAS should plan ahead better:
“Many of those affected by this (the termination) have long notice (recall) periods. How can SAS know what the situation looks like in six months when these pilots leave?”
says Martin Lindgren.
Calling pilots back when the need arises requires long and expensive training requirements. Sometimes it’s cheaper for an airline to keep its excess pilots employed by innovative means such as offering reduced hours and voluntary furloughs than terminating or furloughing the pilot force.
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