Wizz Air sparks safety fears as boss says pilots must go even if tired

Carry on flying: Airline boss sparks safety fears as he says cockpit crews must go ‘the extra mile’… even if they are TIRED

  • Wizz Air has been forced to axe dozens of flights in recent weeks across the UK
  • The budget airline’s chief executive Jozsef Varadi has come under fire for calling on pilots to keep working even if they are fatigued and to ‘go the extra mile’
  • He complained of ‘financial damage’ as the company has to ‘pay compensation’

A leading airline boss has sparked a safety row after urging pilots to keep working even if they are ‘fatigued’.

Jozsef Varadi, the chief executive of Wizz Air, has come under fire after calling on staff to lower the company’s ‘fatigue rate’.

In an internal video seen by the Daily Mail, the budget airline boss said: ‘We are all fatigued but sometimes it is required to take the extra mile. We cannot run this business when every fifth person of a base reports sickness because the person is fatigued.

‘The damage is huge when we are cancelling the flight. It is the reputational damage of the brand. And it is other financial damage because we have to pay compensation for that.’

Wizz Air has been forced to axe dozens of flights in recent weeks amid staff shortages across the UK. Jozsef Varadi, chief executive of the budget airline, is pictured

Wizz Air has been forced to axe dozens of flights in recent weeks amid staff shortages and wider travel disruption across the UK.

Last night Martin Chalk, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, condemned Mr Varadi’s comments, saying: ‘I am shocked that an airline CEO would advise actions so contrary to even a basic safety culture.

Fares could soar 10% 

Air fares could rise by nearly 10 per cent this summer, it emerged yesterday, as an airport boss said the industry must admit to being ‘caught out’ by passenger numbers.

Tim Jeans, director of Cornwall Airport in Newquay, said: ‘We should have planned better and understood that the [pre-pandemic] peak would come back.

‘We had to resource our operations better than we did over the Easter and half-term break and some, but not all operators, got caught out.’

He told the BBC he believed that a maximum of 5 per cent of flights would face disruption this summer – but this would still equate to thousands.

Chief executive of budget airline Wizz Air Jozsef Varadi said he expected fares to surge by ‘upper single digits’ in percentage terms, pushed by the rising cost of jet fuel and fewer seats due to staff shortages.

‘I would urge Mr Varadi to swiftly clarify that Wizz Air would fully support any pilot who does the right thing for the safety of their passengers, crew and aircraft by not flying if they are fatigued.’

The controversy comes after the Hungarian-based carrier announced it had racked up losses of £550million for the 12 months to the end of March – although revenue more than doubled to £1.4billion.

More than 27million passengers flew with Wizz Air last year – up from 17million the year before.

In an optimistic address, Mr Varadi said he expects the airline to deliver its ‘largest ever summer flying programme and the fastest growth in the industry’.

However Wizz Air is expecting to post further losses between April and June due to higher fuel costs and ongoing airport chaos.

Other major airlines, such as British Airways and easyJet, have also faced disruption since Covid travel curbs were loosened in March.

Yesterday Sajid Javid blasted the industry, saying it was ‘about time [it] took more responsibility for sorting its own challenges out.’

The Health Secretary added: ‘We haven’t seen similar problems in France, Germany or Italy. They also have very low unemployment rates like we do so they face labour market challenges like we do. The industry should have done better. The industry got caught out.’

A Wizz Air spokesman said: ‘Supply chain issues are affecting all airlines, in particular staff availability and welfare. In this context, going the extra mile for all our customers to minimise disruption was a main topic of this briefing.’

They added that safety is the airline’s ‘first priority’ and said they have ‘a robust and responsible crew management system’.

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