Pilots union fury as Wizz Air boss urges exhausted staff to go ‘the extra mile’ | business news

The Wizz Air chief is facing backlash from unions, including pilot representatives, after urging fatigued employees to go the “extra mile” as the industry battles flight cancellations due to staff shortages.

Jozsef Varadi made his remarks to the workers after the company warned about it fare increases ahead after the release of financial results on Wednesday, which showed pre-tax losses of £546.5m for the last financial year.

A recording obtained and apparently edited by the European Cockpit Association showed Mr Varadi criticizing staff for calling in sick – adding to his own recent shortages.

“I understand that fatigue is a possible consequence of the problems, but once we start stabilizing rosters we also need to bring the fatigue rate down,” he told them.

“I mean, we can’t run this business when every fifth person on a base is sick because the person is tired.

“We’re all tired, but sometimes it takes going the extra mile.”

“The damage is huge if we cancel the flights, it’s huge. It’s reputational damage to the brand and it’s the other financial damage, the transactional damage, because we have to pay compensation for that.”

The staff shortage is an industry-wide consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen airlines and airports cut staff as travel has all but ground to a halt.

Now both are trying to increase capacity, they don’t have enough workers and complain that the security checks for new workers take too long.

The union responded to the CEO’s comments by asking European aviation regulators to investigate the comments, adding: “It’s like giving your car keys to a drunk driver.”

There are rules governing the number of hours that flight crew – pilots and cabin crew – are legally allowed to work to ensure safety.

Balpa, the UK pilots’ union, responded in a similar tone.

Their Secretary General Martin Chalk said: “We know that airlines have just had their two worst financial years on record, but safety must definitely come first.

“The priority of an airline CEO is to safely operate flights that make the airline money. If you forget your security obligations, you can forget the rest.

“Nobody wants tired pilots behind the wheel – the possible consequences are too devastating.”

He added: “I would urge Mr Varadi to quickly clarify that Wizz Air will fully support any pilot who is doing the right thing by not flying when feeling tired to ensure the safety of his passengers, crew and to ensure aircraft.

“I urge him to be as professional as his pilots when it comes to eradicating fatigue from the flight deck.”

Wizz Air said in a statement that safety would never be compromised.

“The unavailability of our crew was very low at 4%. In this context, there has been discussion about going the extra mile to minimize disruption.”

It added: “This clip was excised from a briefing given to all staff – not just the pilots, but also the cabin crew and all office workers – on important business updates and current aviation challenges.”

Pilots union fury as Wizz Air boss urges exhausted staff to go ‘the extra mile’ | business news

Source link Pilots union fury as Wizz Air boss urges exhausted staff to go ‘the extra mile’ | business news

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