Wizz Air criticized for labor and safety malpractices
During the peak of the coronacrisis, Wizz Air made over 1,000 pilots and cabin crew redundant, as it tried to limit its expenses. Now, the same pilots will have to go through the same recruitment process along with almost 4,000 fresh candidates who want to join the airline, reveals an internal letter seen by AeroTime News.
The airline has begun its recruitment process for its Abu Dhabi-based subsidiary and other European bases, including the newly inaugurated bases in Germany, Romania, and Russia. So far, the airline has received almost 4,000 applications from pilots, including captains and first officers, according to a letter, dated July 24, 2020.
The letter also indicates that the airline will accept two new aircraft, namely one Airbus A320 and one Airbus A321, in the coming week. In total, the Hungary-based planned to add 10 new aircraft to its fleet by March 2021, including seven new A320neo and A321neos, while four A320ceo would be retired.
Wizz Air’s fired pilots will have the priority over these applicants. However, they will follow the same rules and guidelines as the other potential candidates, reads the airline’s update to its employees.
“These redundant pilots will have to follow the same application process as a new joiner to comply with GDPR restrictions and also to meet the EASA mandate to be psychologically tested prior to employment.”
Joining EASA supervision despite safety concerns
Wizz Air is also on the verge of being looked over by the European Union Safety Aviation Agency (EASA) instead of its native aviation authority, the Hungarian National Transport Authority (NTA). The Hungary-based company joined Greece’s Aegean Airlines and the British low-cost carrier easyJet, as well as seven airport operators, in EASA’s program to abide by guidelines developed by the agency to return to normal operations during COVID-19.
However, the airline also seemingly ignored other safety concerns laid out by EASA. In its review of potential safety issues that could arise from the current pandemic, EASA highlighted that crew fatigue was one of the concerning factors that could potentially lead to safety lapses in an airline’s operations.
“With redundancy and furlough reducing the available number of personnel, those left working may have to work additional hours. The preparation for, and eventual return to (new) normal operations will require significant additional effort in comparison with actual normal operations,” leading to rising levels of fatigue, read the review by EASA.
Unions underlined the safety issues that might arise from the labor practices undertaken by Wizz Air. The airline is accused of discriminatory practices, whereupon flight crews were laid off by their track record of sick leave days, refusals to work on off days, and responses to exhausting rosters.
“These actions endanger the public safety by forcing crew members to work sick or fatigued due to genuine fear from retaliation in the form of dismissal in violation of EASA ORO,” reads a publicly addressed letter to EASA by FPU Romania, a pilot and flight attendant union. When the aforementioned 1,000 employees were laid off by the low-cost carrier, Wizz Air’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) József Váradi cited three criteria that were used in order to determine whose job will be axed, as the airline dismissed 19% of its total workforce. One of the bullet points was that a person was not a “cultural fit to Wizz Air.”
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