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Monday, June 5, 2023

Wizz Air boss accused of asking pilots to fly through fatigue

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Following his alarming comments about pilot fatigue incidents, Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi has been chastised by a number of pilot unions.

The airline’s CEO also raised safety worries by implying that too many pilots are reporting incidents and that they should continue to work even if they are fatigued.

In a leaked internal video to its employees, Varadi said: “Now that everyone is getting back into work, I understand that fatigue is a potential outcome of the issues, but once we are starting to stabilize the rosters, we also need to take down the fatigue rate.

“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 cancel a flight. It’s reputational damage to the brand, and it is financial, transactional damage because we have to pay compensation for that.”

The European Cockpit Association (ECA) responded to Varadi’s comments by saying that encouraging fatigued pilots to fly is comparable to “handing a key to a drunk driver.”

The British Airlines Pilots Association (BALPA) said it was “shocked an airline CEO would advise actions so contrary to basic safety culture”. BALPA also urges Varadi “to swiftly clarify that Wizz Air would fully support any pilot who does the right thing by not flying if they feel fatigued”.

The Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers (UK) said it was “equally shocked to hear these comments from the Wizz Air CEO,” echoing BALPA and the ECA.

Fatigue is a major hazard to civil aviation safety, putting passengers at risk by increasing the likelihood of making mistakes during flights. Pilot fatigue is common, owing to irregular rosters, long duty times, and little sleep.

Photo cover by: reuters


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