Do not think the pilots get better working conditions elsewhere – VG

NEW JOBS: The pilots will soon be able to get new jobs in other companies if SAS goes bankrupt, according to experts.

Due to the lack of pilots, the SAS pilots will quickly be able to get new jobs in the event of bankruptcy. But it is unlikely that working conditions will improve, according to the professor.


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There is no doubt that the SAS pilots will quickly be able to get new jobs, if the company goes bankrupt.

That is the opinion of aviation analyst Hans Jørgen Elnæs and NHH professor Frode Steen.

– First and foremost: There is a large deficit of pilots in general in Europe, America and Asia. It is not a problem to get a job, says Elnæs.

He also points out that wages have risen as a result of the lack of pilots.

– SAS is no longer the pay leader in Europe, he says.

Elnæs believes there is no reason to believe that other companies will not fight for SAS pilots in the event of bankruptcy.

– Especially the low-cost companies in growth. But the big companies, such as British Airway, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa and Finnair, have a more conservative growth. There, it depends more on how many pilots retire, he says.

EXPERT: Aircraft analyst Hans Jørgen Elnæs points to several differences in working conditions for pilots at SAS and the low-cost airlines.

Not as good contracts

– Will the SAS pilots be able to get better working conditions if they have to apply for jobs elsewhere?

– I have no faith that they will get better working conditions, Steen says.

He does not think the SAS pilots get as good contracts as they have today.

– I think they shoot themselves in the foot. I think working outside SAS does not mean as good conditions as what they have today. But there is speculation since the details of the agreements are typically not openly known. Comparing the pilots’ terms is difficult without knowing all the aspects of their agreements, so it quickly becomes like comparing bananas and apples, he emphasizes.

EXPERT: NHH professor Frode Steen does not think the SAS pilots will get better contracts elsewhere.

Elnæs also points out that the pilots must have the right qualifications for the type of aircraft the individual company uses. The low-cost airline EasyJet flies Airbus, such as SAS, while Ryanair, for example, flies Boeing.

– If you do not have the right certificates, you have to pay maybe 200,000 kroner for new ones, he says.

Some companies require the pilot to pay. Other companies make arrangements to pay for the certificates, but the pilot is then often tied to the company with a contract over several years.

Differences in working conditions

– I think it is important to understand what kind of company SAS is. They have a complicated grid, which makes it more difficult for them to program and plan flight programs for pilots and cabin crew, says Elnæs.

– How has SAS been considered among pilots in other companies?

– I think SAS has been very well regarded as a company. It is actually the case that when you first start flying in SAS, you do not quit until you retire, says Elnæs.

In Ryanair, for example, the influx of pilots is much greater, as is often the case with low-cost airlines.

Elnæs points out several points where SAS differs from the competitors in the low-cost airlines.

Duty schedules:

A Ryanair pilot who, for example, is based in Barcelona and plans to work there for a while, will be able to see the roster about two years ahead.

A SAS pilot will have a shift schedule of only 1-2 months ahead.

SAS pilots VG has spoken to say that they receive shift schedules for the following month on the 15th of each month.

The rotation in the shift schedule:

Pilots in Ryanair often work five days on, four days off.

SAS has no fixed rotation in the same way.

Living situation:

Ryanair has bases in many places in Europe, where pilots must live or get to before they go to work.

The pilots in SAS do not have to commute to any extent, if they live near a SAS base, and can live at home with the family in Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm.

STEAKER: SAS pilots are on strike at Youngstorget in Oslo on Thursday.

Several factors

Steen emphasizes that there are hardly any companies that are comparable to SAS.

– If we look at KLM / Air France, for example: They have achieved two things. One is that they have their own low-cost airlines that fly most of the tourist routes. The second is that they have managed to reduce the cost level more than SAS.

In addition, SAS is “very” trade unionized with trade unions in three countries.

– This makes the processes even more complicated when negotiating working conditions. It is a complicated affair for SAS where this organization across countries has slowed down the process of improving over time, says Steen.

He says that this has led to SAS still not being as competitive as the other network companies today.

Steen also points out that the administration in the company is far away from those who fly.

– There are many stages in the decision-making process, which thus becomes very inefficient. I think there is a lot of efficiency to be gained throughout the organization, he says.

In low-cost companies, there is a shorter distance between the decision-maker and those who perform the job.

– But having said that: Over time, SAS employees have not been willing to take the cuts. Then you can ask why they should take them. Why they should be in a worse position than other Scandinavians, says Steen.

He emphasizes that aviation can be compared to shipping: it is an industry with international competition.

– The pilot salary is not the primary problem. What is a bigger problem is the agreements around. Time use, how to organize yourself and pension conditions – something SAS has traditionally had good agreements for, says Steen.

Steen emphasizes that working conditions are more than wages and working hours.

– It is job security, pension. It is a complicated picture and it is difficult to calculate these factors and compare, for example, a SAS and Norwegian pilot, he says.

Psst: Do you wonder what happens to your bonus points if SAS goes bankrupt? Here you get answers!

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