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Owner, union talks at SAS go down to wire

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- The troubled Scandinavian airline SAS said Sunday that talks between owners and unions have so far failed to yield an agreement that could save the troubled carrier from bankruptcy.

Owners and creditors of the airline, which is owned by Sweden, Denmark and Norway, have drafted a strategic overhaul program to slash costs and jobs, but the plan needs the approval from pilot and cabin crew unions from the three countries to proceed.

"Intense negotiations have taken place over the past few days," the company said in a statement. "Unfortunately, no agreement with any of the unions has yet been reached."

SAS said talks would continue throughout the day in the hope of reaching an agreement before a key board of director meeting scheduled later Sunday. Without a deal, the airline will likely enter bankruptcy.

The airline has suffered stiff competition from rising discount carriers despite repeated attempts to keep costs low.

SAS managers are hoping to renegotiate employment terms and pensions for its staff and slash about 800 jobs as part of a $3 billion kronor ($440 million) annual saving plan. Thousands of other jobs would be outsourced, reducing airline staff from 15,000 to 9,000, according to the plan.