The timing of EASA’s first webinar on fatigue risk management (FRM) in cargo & on-demand operations is somewhat symbolically marking the first anniversary of pandemic-boosted cargo operations. Those unfortunately resulted into record-high levels of fatigue among many cargo pilots. Didier Moraine, ECA FTL expert & cargo pilot, delivered a key message to the authorities and the airlines at the webinar: Crew suffered from fatigue more than ever, and FRM proved to be a resilient tool in these extreme times – but only when it was matched with a mature safety & reporting culture within the airline, support from top management, and properly overseen by national authorities.
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression” applies to airlines too. Yet, the newly established SouthEast Airlines in Slovenia already stands out and qualifies for the Hall of Shame, even before its official start of operations in June. SouthEast Airlines offers contracts for ‘self-employed’ crew, charging pilots with 35.000 EUR for line training or 30.000 for an A320 Type Rating. And to top it off, the contract for pilots offers perks such as immediate termination in case of unionisation or a refusal of vaccination. Welcome to Europe’s sky!
It took almost a year and many, many letters to the EU Commission (the latest sent in March), to see at least an ambition to restart air travel safely in Europe. After a disastrous year for travel & tourism, the Commission seems to have understood the need to come up with something that would replace the cacophony of travel restrictions and rules. A legislative proposal for a ‘Digital Green Certificate’, a proof that a traveler has been vaccinated against the coronavirus or recently tested, is due on March 17. We are cautiously optimistic but there are a lot of ‘ifs, ands, and buts’ surrounding the idea.
Another candidate for our Hall of Shame: Bluebird. Icelandic pilots had a collective labour agreement with Bluebird since the company was founded. In 2020 the agreement was to be renewed. They negotiated, but on December 30, the Icelandic airline fired all unionised pilots. The airline 'justifies' this action on the grounds that their directly employed pilots are too expensive, says Jon Thor Thorvaldsson, President of the Icelandic pilot union FÍA. The airline plans to retain 44 pilots, as "self-employed contractors". Bluebird's so-called "self-employed" pilots are in fact hired through a Dutch recruitment agency, and the airline declared it will in future only use such independent contractors. It is unacceptable that Icelandic authorities would tolerate such social engineering and local quality jobs, social security & tax income to be shifted to contractors from abroad.