Jet2 slammed for ‘refusal to recognise’ pilot fatigue concerns

Budget airline reportedly said it ‘does not wish and is not obliged to engage with Balpa on these matters’

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 28 July 2022 09:39 BST
<p>Last month, Wizz Air’s boss was criticised for saying tired pilots should ‘go the extra mile'</p>

Last month, Wizz Air’s boss was criticised for saying tired pilots should ‘go the extra mile'

Pilots’ union Balpa has hit out at the budget airline Jet2, saying it “refuses to recognise increasing concern from its pilots about fatigue and stress caused by roster disruption”.

Balpa representatives say they are “dismayed” after having tried to work with Jet2 on “ meaningful safety protections for [pilot] rosters”, which they say have been stretched to the maximum by European flight time rules.

“Jet2 pilots have asked Balpa to work with the airline to agree meaningful safety protections for their rosters in light of the current - more permissive - European flight time rules, which Balpa believes some airlines use as targets and not maximum limits,” the union said in a statement. 

“Balpa believes these rostering practices are not sustainable in the long run and could have a detrimental effect on pilots’ health and wellbeing resulting in a clear impact on safety.”

 The union’s national officer Terry Brandon said: “Balpa recently wrote to Jet2 management on behalf of our members to offer to work collaboratively with the company on scientific, evidence-based fatigue analysis using our in-house experts.

“Jet2 refused, saying that although they take safety ‘extremely seriously’, they ‘do not wish, and are not obliged, to engage with Balpa on these matters’.”

He continued: “We are deeply concerned about Jet2 management’s attitude in response to a genuine offer of using safety experts for the benefit of everyone, including their passengers.

“We appeal to Jet2 to listen to its pilots and Balpa now, and implement basic roster protections that protect the health of our members during the busy summer season. Failing to do so risks significant pilot fatigue and health issues.”

It comes after the chief executive of another budget airline, Wizz Air, was criticised for his comments around pilot fatigue.

József Váradi said in an internal video message: “Now that everyone is getting back into work, I understand that fatigue is a potential outcome of the issues.

“But once we are starting stabilising the rosters, we also need to take down the fatigue rate.

“I mean, 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 European Cockpit Association, representing 40,000 pilots, tweeted at the time: “Deficient safety culture alert! @WizzAir CEO encourages pilots to fly fatigued!

“It’s like handing the car keys to a drunk driver.”

In May a pilot working for Italy’s state-run airline, ITA, was fired for allegedly falling asleep at the controls during a flight from New York to Rome last month.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that both pilots had dozed off in the cockpit at he same during a flight on 30 April, leaving the plane out of contact with air traffic control for just over 10 minutes.

The Independent has approached Jet2 for comment.

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