Nov.19 - Scandinavian airline SAS wrapped up a deal with the last of eight unions on a plan to reduce costs, clearing the way to finalise a $515 million dollar rescue deal. Hayley Platt reports.
It took hours of talking but Scandinavia's SAS has finally reached an agreement with workers to save the airline from bankruptcy. Eight unions in Sweden, Norway and Denmark have agreed measures to shrink the business and satisfy the banks. SAS will now receive a $515 million dollar rescue loan. Robert Gustafsson is head of the Swedish pilots association. (SOUNDBITE)(Swedish) ROBERT GUSTAFSSON PILOT AND HEAD OF THE SAS-SECTION THE PILOT'S UNION SAYING: "We agreed to all the terms in the areas that they asked for. We have made concessions on things like salaries and pensions and service. On the salary side you can say that we cede one months salary per year, we will lower our allowance for expenses by 27 per cent and we will increase our working days by around eight per cent, to 190 days per year." SAS is half owned by the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. But like many flagship carriers it's been struggling, It hasn't returned a profit since 2007 thanks to competition from budget carriers like Ryanair and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Without a deal bankruptcy was looming. (SOUNDBITE)(Swedish) SAS PASSENGER PETER HEMMINGSSON SAYING: "We come from the north of Sweden and we are dependent on a functioning air service." Last week SAS said wages would be slashed by up to 17 percent and it would reduce headcount from 15,000 to 9,000. It aims to cut costs by about $440 million dollars a year. Shares rose 25 percent during Monday as the prospect of a settlement emerged.