French Pilots Claim EasyJet is Risking Safety by Scheduling Too Many Flights
French pilots have claimed easyJet is risking passenger and crew safety by scheduling too many flights, reported The Guardian.
Captains are being pressed into flying more hours than they are legally allowed and face intimidation if they refuse, France’s pilots’ union said.
In an open letter to the company’s main shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the union said the flight schedule is unrealistic and had caused numerous delays and last-minute cancellations.
“A red line has been crossed and we are very shocked,” said Arnaud Wiplier, the president of the easyJet section of the Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne (SNPL). “The airline has eyes bigger than its stomach; the schedules are not possible.”
Wiplier told Le Figaro newspaper that easyJet had scheduled far too many flights during the summer, especially at weekends, when the chances of cancellation are eight times higher.
“Summer is very busy and it doesn’t work,” he said. “If a plane has to do six flights a day, the last flight will have a long delay or be cancelled.”
EasyJet, which carries about 17 million passengers a year in France, categorically rejected the pilots’ criticism and said it was “surprised by their action”. The airline said it made no compromises on safety and was structured to manage a normal level of disruption in high season.
The pilots claim the pressure on them is caused by new European rules giving passengers “lots of money for delays and cancellations”.
Long delays have caused passenger anger in recent weeks. Last month, after a 13-hour wait for an easyJet flight, a Nice airport worker apparently hit a passenger who was holding a baby.
EasyJet has launched a recruitment drive for an additional 450 pilots, from cadets to experienced captains from other airlines. The carrier employs more than 3,000 pilots to fly its Airbus aircraft on more than 870 routes in 31 countries.
The summer is a critical season for airlines, whose operations are typically loss-making for much of the rest of the year.
British unions warned this month that pilots were being pushed to the limit by demanding summer schedules. The number of flights to or from the UK reached record levels in late July.
The British Airline Pilots Association said an inadequate number of pilots at some airlines could contribute to dangerous levels of fatigue, with increasing numbers reporting burnout from inadequate rest and unworkable rotas.
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