SAS starts talks with unions to end six-day strike

“We have entered a good and constructive phase where we, with the help of the national mediator, will hopefully be able to bring an end to this tragic strike,” Knut Morten Johansen, the company’s press chief in Norway, told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK.

The first meeting began at 11am at the offices of the national mediator. As Marianne Hernes, SAS’s chief negotiator, entered the building she was asked if there was now a possibility of a solution. “We absolutely hope so,” she said.

It was the first time the two sides had sat down together for talks since SAS pilots walked off the job in Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Friday demanding better pay and conditions, though they met prior to the walkout.

“We will try and find a solution to the conflict. I always believe there is a solution, but it’s a challenge,” Mats Wilhelm Ruland, Norway’s national mediator, told Norway’s NTB news wire.

Shortly after the talks began, SAS announced that it would cancel a further 280 flights on Thursday morning and early afternoon, affecting a further 20,000 passengers.

But Johansen said that he hoped these cancellations would be the last. “If we reach an agreement, we’ll do everything we can to deliver the existing schedule after 2pm,” he told NRK.

Jan Sjölin, his counterpart at the Swedish National Mediation Office, said that the talks in Norway would cover pilots in Sweden and Denmark as well.