We have already – and repeatedly – flagged the airline’s lax attitude to safety culture after a leaked recording of a senior WIZZ manager showed the company dismissed pilots based on their refusal to work on days off, to fly longer hours (the so-called Commander’s Discretion) or report sick or fatigued. Those were already serious red flags which required a firm action from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is responsible for WIZZ’s safety oversight.
When questioned by the European Parliament, in March 2022, on those concerns, EASA’s Director claimed that the Agency’s inspections “never indicated that there was a lack of safety culture in Wizz Air and that there was any kind of safety concern”. He mentioned however also that the Agency is receiving numerous complaints from unions and staff…
The latest comments by the CEO József Váradi, however, are in line with the same corporate culture deficiencies that Wizz demonstrated before and which ECA alerted about already in 2021. The airline still appears to put profit above safety. And the oversight authorities still seem blind to this attitude.
The CEO statements are a clear example of inadmissible pressure on workers in a safety critical industry as aviation. We are not even talking about subtle pressure, but an all-out call to work while fatigued.
Such statements are detrimental for safety and brush aside decades of research and scientific consensus about the dangers of fatigue in aviation.
ECA calls for meaningful action to be taken 1) to counter the negative safety impact of Mr. Váradi’s statement, 2) to ensure that the airline’s corporate culture is fully and independently assessed, and 3) to pave the ground for building a robust, trusted and non-punitive corporate culture, where pilots and cabin crew can take independent safety decisions free from commercial pressure and call in sick or fatigued without fear of reprisals.
We also call on all pilots to always report fatigue – this is not just the safe and responsible way to operate – in the interest of their airline’s passengers – but it is also their legal obligation.
Busy summer rosters and delays may lead to fatigue: during the workday, or piling up over days or weeks.
This even more so during this summer’s ‘ramp-up’ of operations where airlines may have too few crews for too many flights. Remember that being rested and fully alert is key for safe operations. Therefore:
- If you cannot get enough sleep and/or feel unfit to fly, call in unfit and get rested. This is a legal obligation.
- if you get fatigued during the day, preventing you from safely performing your duty, call in fatigued and step down from duty before the next flight. This is also a legal obligation.
- if asked by your airline to extend your flight times under ‘Commanders Discretion’ – e.g. due to delays accumulated during the day – check your own and your colleagues’ alertness levels, and if you or other crew members are fatigued, do not extend. Again, this is your legal obligation. (see ECA’s guidance here)
- if asked by your management to fly on your Days Off, check your alertness level and consider whether this additional duty will allow you to subsequently rest and recover sufficiently for your next flight duties. If in doubt, stay at home.
- if in doubt about the maximum flight times allowed under EU law, download the ECA Flight Time Limitations calculator on iTunes | Google Play
- if fatigued – report it! This is your obligation by law. Use your airline’s reporting form and procedure; if not available, use the ECA reporting template here.
- if your airline’s management exerts pressure on you or your colleagues to fly while fatigued, or threatens disciplinary measures, contact your national union, and have it reported to your national authority and ECA. If needed, ECA will alert EASA.