Scandinavian Airlines lays off senior pilots

sasScandinavian Airlines (SAS) has voted to lay off 50 of its senior pilots, apparently in response to the current economic crisis in the air travel industry, according to Aftenposten. The layoffs are also likely related to the ongoing struggle between older and younger pilots, as younger pilots have been accused of trying to intimidate their senior counterparts into retirement.

SAS has also decided to suspend 18 aircraft from its fleet during the winter months, and an additional 40 senior pilots are expected to be laid off in 2009. SAS spokesman Claus Sonberg said, “We have agreed that the layoffs will affect those who would soon be retiring regardless, instead of the young pilots.” This statement comes after long negotiations with the pilots’ union finally reached a consensus.

It is hoped this will end the nasty ongoing feud within the union between veteran pilots and newcomers, who have complained that many pilots over the age of 60 chose to keep flying despite union guidelines stating they should retire at 60. Civil aviation authorities entered the fray last week out of concern that the cockpit infighting could endanger planes and passengers, ordering the union to settle the matter.

SAS claimed the infighting was not serious, but the airline is obliged to follow rules laid down by the authority. Usually pilots with the most seniority are the last to get laid off, but SAS is reversing standard practice and sending the oldest ones into retirement.