Violent reactions to what the president of a European airline asked his employees… What did he say to them?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — In the midst of aviation chaos this summer, an airline CEO came up with a new idea to reduce the number of canceled flights by asking employees to take shorter vacations.

Joseph Faraday, chief executive of low-cost European airline Wizz Air, told workers at a meeting this week that many of them want to take time off due to fatigue, “while sometimes it just takes an extra effort”.

Pilot fatigue is taken seriously in the aviation industry, and the Aviation Safety Foundation describes it as “an internationally recognized problem related to the broader question of mission suitability”.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has a 148-page report on dealing with flight crew fatigue, and the Federal Aviation Administration produces awareness videos about the industry.

Fatigue was also one of the reasons for the crash of American Airlines Flight 1420, which killed 11 people, in 1999.

The comment, made by Varadi during a private video call with all Wizz Air employees, was recorded and posted to social media by the European Cockpit Association, which described it as a “flawed safety culture warning”.

“Now that everyone is back to work, I realize that fatigue is a possible consequence of problems,” Vardy said in a clip of the video call.

He continued: “We are all tired. But sometimes it is necessary to make an extra effort.”

He added: “The damage caused by canceling a flight is enormous, it is reputational damage and also financial damage, transaction related because we have to pay compensation.”

A Wizz Air spokesperson explained that this message was addressed to all airline employees, not specifically pilots.

“This clip is from a meeting of all employees, not just pilots, but also cabin crew and all headquarters employees, about important business updates and the current challenges facing aviation,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. .

“Supply chain issues affect all airlines, especially staff availability and well-being. Our available crew is very low at 4%. In this context, an additional effort to mitigate business disruption was discussed, which does not mean that safety is compromised”.

The spokesperson added: “Wizz Aviation and the aviation industry are highly regulated, and safety is and always will be our number one priority. We have a strong and accountable crew management system that meets the needs of our employees and enables us to serve as many customers as possible in today’s challenging environment.”

“It only takes one mistake”

But Adrien Becker, an aviation psychiatrist, told CNN that the fact that Faraday didn’t specifically address the pilots doesn’t make it any better. He described the lack of staff as an ‘indicator of morale’.

He explained: “When an organization suffers from a large number of sick employees, the causes are usually organizationally caused. Requiring pilots to persevere goes against every corner of reasonable safety management over the past 20 years.”

He continued: “Many pilots who work for major airlines often feel that they are treated like commodities, operate within legal capacity limits, and are then thrown out when they are no longer needed.”

Bakir added that pilots are not the only ones who make mistakes when they feel tired, but this could be caused by a catastrophic series of events.

He said: “We know that all airline staff are under severe stress right now, and these people are working with enormous levels of stress. If the check-in attendant is stressful, it can trigger a series of events that are difficult to manage. to make a mistake without considering the implications.

While we can all face such gaps, Bakir says it’s not smart to ask people who work in professions where safety is paramount to stick with it and work harder.

The leaked video sparked a disturbing response in the aviation community on social media, with one pilot tweeting, “This is one of the most dangerous comments I’ve ever heard from an airline CEO. It reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of fatigue and the associated impact.” flight safety.

Stephen Ehrlich, chairman of PilotsTogether, a charity that supports British pilots who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, told CNN: “Forcing pilots to fly fatigued is a dangerous and inappropriate precedent that sets passengers, pilots and the public on the ground at unimaginable levels. risks necessary.”

BALPA, the British Pilots’ Union, wrote on Twitter: “We are shocked that the CEO of an airline advises against actions that violate a fundamental safety culture. BALPA urges Mr Faraday to make it clear quickly that Wizz Air will Pilot Who Does What It Takes By Supporting Any Pilot Who Refuses To Carry Out Their Mission When Feeling Tired To Maintain The Safety Of Passengers, Crew And Aircraft.

Last week, the Air New Zealand Pilots Association considered pilot fatigue a risk, telling the local press: “Fatigue can be dangerous, as can drug and alcohol abuse, and can lead to potentially fatal mistakes.”

Hungary-based Wizz Air is one of the fastest growing budget airlines in Europe and prides itself on having a fleet of aircraft that cause the least environmental damage on the continent.

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