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SAS pilots head toward strike after rejecting mediators' bid

 SAS pilots head toward strike after rejecting mediators bid

STOCKHOLM/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - SAS pilots rejected a bid tabled by mediators on Thursday and began preparing to strike if a compromise cannot be reached by midnight, in a move that could potentially disrupt plans for about 170,000 travellers.

Swedish, Danish and Norwegian pilot unions earlier this month called a strike of 1,500 pilots if there was no agreement on wages and other terms after an earlier round of talks broke down without the parties finding common ground.

A spokeswoman for the Swedish employers' organisation, which is heading the unions' negotiations, said pilots had rejected mediators' bid and were gearing up for a strike. She said further details about the talks would be shared shortly.

However, a spokesman for the Scandinavian airline in Norway said the negotiations in Oslo were continuing.

It is not uncommon for such negotiations to run past their stipulated deadlines and national mediators in the three countries have been trying to broker a deal since last week between SAS and four pilot unions.

SAS, which normally flies around 800 flights per day, had said earlier on Thursday that it would cancel 205 flights from midnight until noon Friday as a precautionary measure.

A strike would affect 70 percent of SAS flights, with the remaining 30 percent operated by partners left unaffected. Around 170,000 travellers could be impacted if the strike lasted through the weekend, according to SAS spokeswoman Freja Annamatz.

Earlier this week, the airline offered travellers concerned about a possible strike the chance to reschedule flights for the April 26-29 period to another date free of charge.

SAS is in the midst of renewing an elderly and fuel-intensive fleet after spending years cutting costs in the face of cut-price competition from budget carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair.

The airline reported a bigger than expected loss for its fiscal first quarter in February, but said it still expected to run a profit for the full year.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Andreas Mortensen, Nerijus Adomaitis and Esha Vaish; Editing by Niklas Pollard, Jan Harvey and Jonathan Oatis)

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Updated Date: Apr 26, 2019 03:05:57 IST