Here’s another lesson in ‘never fly a Bill Franke airline’. The CEO of Budapest-based Wizz Air doesn’t want pilots cancelling flights just because they’re too tired to fly, saying “we are all fatigued but sometimes it is required to take the extra mile.”
Too tired? Just fly anyway!
Deficient safety culture alert!@WizzAir CEO encourages pilots to fly fatigued! It’s like handing the car keys to a drunk driver. @EASA step in! You are WIZZ’ oversight authority… pic.twitter.com/qdJdBVwH90
— European Pilots (@eu_cockpit) June 8, 2022
He’s right that delays and cancellations are costly, but flying while fatigued is the wrong answer. I’m not usually sympathetic to pilot unions, but Wizz Air needs to hire more pilots. He’s not in the U.S. market, either, and Europe doesn’t have the absurd barriers to becoming a pilot that the U.S. does.
At an airline you do not even speak words that sounds like anything would prioritize over safety. Ever. There’s a hundred-year rule not to ever talk about compromising safety, or to suggest that any airline is unsafe, because that could undermine confidence in the industry itself. Airlines once weren’t actually that safe, and now they’re the safest means of transportation based on fatalities per person per mile traveled.
During the regulated era in the United States the federal government took it as its role to ensure airfares were high and airlines made money out of concern that unprofitable airlines would cut corners on safety. That concern is outdated. Nearly all major U.S. airlines went through bankruptcy without compromising safety. They went through 9/11 and the Covid-19 pandemic without compromising safety. European airlines have similar safety track records.
New executives at Pan Am used to be onboarded by being shown a documentary on the Tenerife disaster. The culture of safety as paramount is drilled in from day one. Rhetoric by Wizz Air’s CEO is unhelpful.
If he wants to suggest that pilots are cloaking self-interested arguments in the guise of safety that may be true, but suggesting pilots should fly despite fatigue is ill-advised in the extreme.