Wizz Air CEO under fire for saying pilots should stop complaining about fatigue

Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi is facing criticism from a number of pilot unions following his alarming comments regarding pilot fatigue cases. The airline boss also sparked safety concerns for suggesting that too many pilots are reporting cases and that they should keep working 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."In response to Varadi’s comments, the European Cockpit Association (ECA) said that encouraging fatigued pilots to fly is like “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”. 

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

Fatigue is a major threat for civil aviation safety and places a great risk on passengers because it increases the risk of making errors during flights. Fatigue is prevalent among pilots usually due to unpredictable rosters, long duty periods, and insufficient sleep. 

Comment from Aero News Journal:

I wonder how Mr. Jozsef Varadi, would feel if one of those fatigued pilots crashed an airplane loaded with passengers?! How much compensations, the company would pay for the families of victims? How the airlines reputation would be like then? 

When a pilot is not flying a flight because he feels fatigued, he saves millions of dollars for the airline, that would be paid in compensations, not to mention an aircraft worth millions of dollars. And of course, saving hundred plus priceless lives on board of the flight.

In actual fact, Mr. Jozsef Varadi should be thankful for those pilots, who feel responsible, and have safety as their top priority.

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