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The boss of Wizz Air has made a statement which has been interpreted as urging his pilots to fly while fatigued that has been likened to handing car keys to a drunk driver, reports the Mirror.
József Váradi, chief executive of the Hungarian budget airline, said in an internal video message: “Now that everyone is getting back into work, I understand that fatigue is a potential outcome of the issues.
“But once we are starting stabilising the rosters we also need to take down the fatigue rate.
“I mean we cannot run this business when every fifth person of a base reports sickness because the person is fatigued.
“We are all fatigued. But sometimes it is required to go the extra mile.
“The damage is huge when we are cancelling a flight. It’s huge. It’s reputational damage of the brand and it is the other financial damage, the transactional damage because we have to pay compensation for that.”
The suggestion has been met by dismay by pilots unions, with the the European Cockpit Association sounding a “deficient safety culture alert!"
They added: “It’s like handing the car keys to a drunk driver.”
Martin Chalk, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, told the Independent: “I would urge Mr Váradi to swiftly clarify that Wizz Air would fully support any pilot who does the right thing by not flying if they feel fatigued, for the safety of their passengers, crew and aircraft.
“I urge him to be as professional as his pilots in seeking to eradicate fatigue from the flight deck.”
One senior UK aviation figure added: “I’m shocked. Never seen anything like this.”
Wizz Air, like fellow European budget easyJet and Ryanair, has never seen a fatal accident.
A spokesperson for Wizz Air said: “This clip has been edited from an all staff briefing (not pilots only, but also cabin crew and all office employees) on key business updates and current challenges facing aviation.
"Supply chain issues are affecting all airlines, in particular staff availability and welfare. Our crew unavailability has been very low, at 4%. In this context, going the extra mile to minimise disruption was discussed.
"What this does not mean is compromising safety. Wizz Air and the airline industry are highly regulated, and safety has, and always will be, our first priority.
"We have a robust and responsible crew management system which meets the needs of our people and enables us to serve as many customers as possible in the current challenging environment.”
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