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SAS Pilot Union unhappy with Company’s Surprise Regional Flying Plan

A surprise plan to change some SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) mainline flying with regional planes and outside union pilots did not sit well with the pilots of an unhappy SAS pilot union.

SAS corporate management eventually wants to replace aging Boeing 737-600s and -700s with smaller regional planes. The company also wants to create a subsidiary for the routes, utilizing lesser paid outside unionized regional pilots. This, according to SAS, will reduce complexities and cost of operating certain regional routes.

Thus, the airline has entered into an agreement with an outside pilot union to staff the new regional airplane operation with pilots from that union.

The regional operation will be operated as a subsidiary of mainline SAS.

B737 SAS pilot at work (in Norwegian). Duration: 50 seconds. SAS/YouTube.

Why the SAS pilot union is unhappy

Christian Laulund, the President of the SAS Pilot Group (SPG) union said they were caught off guard when they found out about the agreement.

According to Laulund,

The agreement was secretly arranged between *Flyvebranchens Personale Union (FPU) and the SAS management.

* The Flying-branch Personal Union (translated to English).

However, the SPG pilot union was never informed of the agreement.

As a result of the regional operations agreement between the outside union and the SAS management, the unionized SAS pilots will be meeting with its airline management to attempt a solution. However, SAS has a few people employed, currently working under the FPU union contract. An attempt to contact the FPU to clarify in what SAS-capacity these employees work was not successful.

SAS Pilot Group (SPG)

According to the Norwegian business newspaper E2, Christian Laulund said,

“We (the SPG SAS pilots) are currently flying these flight segments. It’s disturbing that another labor union can move in and undercut the conditions of our pilot contract.”

Rickard Gustafson, CEO of SAS said,

“I have to say I am sorry. We are trying to be transparent and clear (with our intentions). In this case, I think it’s positive that we (SAS) is trying to createas many Scandinavian pilot jobs as possible.”

The news came in the aftermath of a costly SAS pilot strike that took place at SAS just a few months ago. SAS is also involved in cabin crew negotiations to try to avert a possible upcoming flight attendant strike.

The expected timeline for a final decision

A final decision on the regional flying issue is expected to occur by the end of the year. The new regional airline subsidiary could be operating sometime between the years 2022 and 2023.

Hopefully, the issue won’t result in another SAS pilot strike.

SAS plane, SAS pilot union unhappy
SAS plane in its new beautiful livery (paint scheme). Photo: SAS.

What is a Regional Airline (Commuter Airline)?

A regional airline flies smaller “feeder routes” whose passengers it “feeds” in an agreement with a major airline. The regional airline flies smaller aircraft, and cheaper to operate. Regional airplanes have less passenger capacity to cover route segments that don’t justify a larger airplane.

A regional airline can be a subsidiary of the main airline, or it can be a separate company that operates under the main airline’s brand.

The regional airplane dilemma for pilot unions and pilot job security

The latest SAS management move is not unique to Scandinavian Airlines. Most airlines are looking for ways to cut costs and fine-tune airplane types needed based on routes.

However, the practice often causes discontent among pilot unions worldwide.

When airlines acquire smaller regional airplanes it is most economical to have the routes assigned and flown by lesser compensated (less experienced) pilots.

Do you have any comments or questions about how the SAS pilot union is unhappy with the way the regional flying agreement was presented to its pilots? You can contact us here.

Featured Image: Unsplash.

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