Dispute at Sterling threatens air travel safety Skip to content

Dispute at Sterling threatens air travel safety

Danish flight authorities have intervened in a dispute within the ranks of the pilots of Sterling Airlines which is said to be so severe that it threatens the airline’s safety, reported news station NFS.

Last year, in a highly publicized acquisition, Icelandic investment firm FL Group purchased Sterling from Icelandic owned Fons Investment. Just a few months earlier, Fons had merged Maersk Airlines into Sterling.

Now the pilots of these two airlines are split into two factions. The former Maersk pilots are said to be upset because of a new contract with Sterling which they believe favors the former Sterling pilots.

In an anonymous letter to the Danish flight authorities, the disputes are said to have gotten to the level that if these pilots fly together the safety of the airplane could be threatened.

For safety reasons, Sterling’s Director of Flight Operations has reacted to the situation by separating the two groups, now the flight crews consist either of Sterling or Maersk pilots, not both.

During FL Group’s acquisition of Sterling, questions arose in the Icelandic media whether FL Group’s CEO Hannes Smárason had collaborated with Sterling owner Fons Investment during Fons’s original acquisition of Sterling and whether FL Group had paid an unreasonable premium for Sterling. Icelandic daily Bladid reported that after Fons’s acquisition of Sterling, FL Group transferred ISK 3 billion to the Luxembourg subsidiary of Kaupthing without any formal loan agreements or other similar documentation. The funds were transfered back to FL Group after several members of the board met with representatives of Kaupthing. Subsequently, 6 out of 7 directors at FL Group resigned.

In the midst of the speculation of unauthorized dealings, Smárason told Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, that if Sterling’s operations went according to plan, Sterling would be worth “five times as much within a year”.

Earlier this month, at a Börsen Executive Club sponsored conference in Copenhagen, Smárason said that in making good business decisions it was key to exclude all emotional aspects towards companies.

His comments provoked former Prime Minister and co-editor of Fréttabladid Thorsteinn Pálsson to write in an editorial recently, “the emotions that employees have relating to their obligations in the workplace are one of the most important foundations of the success of companies. But don’t the obligations then need to be reciprocated?” “All things considered, perhaps emotions, obligations and profits are not altogether independent entities,” wrote Pálsson.

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