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SAS temporarily withdraws Chinese cabin crew

10th April 2008 Print
SAS has today decided with immediate effect to withdraw Chinese cabin crew on flights between Copenhagen and Beijing. This measure follows the concern surrounding the situation for SAS's Chinese employed cabin crew.

"We would have liked to continue operating flights with our Chinese cabin crew who we and our customers greatly appreciate. However, our Chinese colleagues have been put under totally unreasonable pressure in this situation. For this reason, we have relived them from duty for a temporary period of time. We feel that the CAU (the Danish Cabin Attendant Union) and FTF (the Danish Trade Union Confideration) have strongly over reacted in this matter," says Lars Sandahl Sørensen, Chief Executive Officer, SAS International.

SAS has always maintained its opinion that this is a matter of lawful service performed by the 20 Chinese cabin personnel, all of whom are employed by SAS's Chinese branch. However, uncertainty has arisen as to whether there is a requirement for the Chinese employees to hold a Danish work permit, and this issue has now been resolved by the Copenhagen City Court. SAS was found guilty by the court, but in SAS's opinion, this is a case of an incorrect judgment with unreasonable consequences.

Accordingly, SAS appealed the case to the Danish High Court, as permitted by the legal system, with the intention of securing a final verdict in this matter. Naturally, SAS will act in accordance with the final judgment, even if it goes against SAS.

As is known, the Danish Government has proposed a bill on changes in legislation that will remove the existing uncertainty in this matter. In this respect, claims have been made that the adoption of the proposed changes will result in the loss of jobs amongst Scandinavian cabin crew.

A statement from SAS explains:

“This is not correct. The fact of the matter is that in the long term it will not be possible for SAS to operate flights to the same extent on certain routes if it is unable to have local employees onboard. This is a customer demand. At the same time, it should be noted that SAS engages local employees on only two of its routes, and it should be noted that only two out of ten cabin crew personnel are local employees on these routes.”

"I want to emphasize that our Scandinavian cabin crew are invaluable and appreciated. They are and will remain the most important element of our customer service and being a Scandinavian corporation wherever we fly in the world. A change in the law alters none of this. It means that we want to meet the customers' service requirements and create employment security for our employees," says Lars Sandahl Sørensen.

SAS has since 1953 had Japanese cabin crew employed. The reason for their employment is that our Japanese customers demand the service that can be provided by cabin crew with their linguistic and cultural background. Accordingly, SAS's Japanese employees are resident and employed in Japan, and 60% of SAS passengers on these flights are Japanese. The same conditions apply to our Chinese personnel, who have been employed since 2006.

Salary conditions and SAS's salary overheads have no influence on the employment of the crew. At the same time, the employment of these crews means that SAS is able to compete on an equal basis with other international airlines, who have locally employed personnel.

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