Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), already beset by labor strife and now facing a pilot strike, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a United States court, Forbes is reporting today.
The Stockholm, Sweden-based airline said filing for bankruptcy is a proactive move. Filing for Chapter 11 gives it the flexibility to reorganize its finances with up to $700 million on the table from lenders pending further negotiations.
That’s the long term. In the short term, SAS has had to cancel more than three-quarters of all flights today due to the chaotic labor situation and, now, the pilot strike.
“SAS will continue to serve its customers as normal, although the strike by SAS Scandinavia pilots’ unions will impact the flight schedule,” the airline said in a statement.
“The ongoing strike has made an already challenging situation even tougher,” said Anko van der Werff, CEO of SAS.
Nonetheless, pilots are enjoying the leverage they suddenly have. There has been a pilot shortage coming for years now, and it was exacerbated by the onset of the pandemic. Airlines, already facing mandatory retirement for pilots who reached the age of 65, saved on costs by offering buyouts and early retirements to workers across all sectors, including pilots.
Now, as travel demand has surged and is nearly back to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, airlines haven’t been able to catch up with staffing.
Pilots have taken their plights directly to consumers via web and blog postings, email blasts and informational pickets outside airports.
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