Norwegian Air reaches wage deal with pilots, averting strike

FILE PHOTO: A Norwegian Air plane

OSLO (Reuters) -Budget carrier Norwegian Air and its pilots have reached a deal on a new collective agreement, preventing a strike that could have grounded many flights, the airline and labour union officials said on Saturday.

A strike would have been a blow to Norwegian, which is about to enter what is traditionally its most profitable time of the year.

"I am pleased that we have reached an agreement," CEO Geir Karlsen said in a statement. "All eyes are now on the busy summer season ahead and we look forward to welcoming our customers on board."

The company may still cancel some flights this weekend as a result of actions taken to prepare for the possible strike, the company said.

The bargain will partly close a wage gap between pilots in Norway and those elsewhere, the Norwegian Pilot Union, which negotiated on behalf of the pilots, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how much more the pilots will be paid.

The unions had said any strike could have gradually grown to comprise all 690 pilots employed by the company's unit in Norway, more than half the group's 1,300 pilots.

The pilots employed by units outside its Norway, including in Denmark and Spain, were not affected.

The deal will lead to a better work-life balance by reducing the overall demands on each pilot, the union said.

Norwegian said in April it expected record profits this year on the back of high demand during the peak summer season.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen; Editing by William Mallard)