Wizz Air CEO Tells Pilots To Fly Fatigued

Wizz Air CEO Tells Pilots To Fly Fatigued

22

The CEO of Wizz Air, one of Europe’s fastest growing ultra low cost carriers, made some very controversial comments this week…

Wizz Air CEO’s comments on pilot fatigue

Wizz Air CEO József Váradi is making headlines for his comments on pilot fatigue. Váradi takes issue with how many Wizz Air pilots have been calling in sick due to fatigue, and is saying a business can’t be run this way. He even went so far as to say we’re all fatigued and still need to work, so pilots should as well. Here’s what he said:

“I understand that fatigue is a potential outcome of the issues, but once we are starting stabilizing 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 take the extra mile. The damage is huge when we are canceling a flight.”

The issues with these comments

Aviation is the safest mode of transportation in the world, and that largely comes down to the simple fact that the industry as a whole is never willing to compromise on safety. From low cost carriers to full service airlines, you’ll almost never hear an airline executive say “yeah, well safety is important, but…” It just doesn’t happen, and for good reason.

So Váradi’s comments are surprising, because these are comments you almost never hear from an airline executive. A few thoughts:

  • It’s totally tone deaf to say “we are all fatigued,” because when most of us go to work every day, we don’t have hundreds of lives directly in our hands; a countless number of airline accidents over the year can be attributed to fatigue
  • If every fifth Wizz Air pilot is calling in sick due to fatigue (as the CEO suggests), maybe the problem isn’t the pilots, but rather the airline, and it’s time to change rosters, flying hours, etc.
  • I think it’s worth remembering that in 2021, Wizz Air’s CEO was granted up to £100m in shares if he can nearly triple Wizz Air’s stock price over the course of five years

It’s pretty clear Váradi’s concern is with earning his bonus by greatly increasing Wizz Air’s stock price, rather than him being worried about the survival of the company. Wizz Air pilots aren’t exactly the best paid in Europe, so I’m firmly in the camp of thinking this is Váradi’s problem, and not the problem of pilots.

Bottom line

Wizz Air’s CEO isn’t happy with how many pilots are calling in fatigued, so he’s suggesting that pilots should just show up to work anyway, because we’re all fatigued. That’s problematic logic, especially given how many airline accidents in the past have been caused by fatigue. I guess Váradi really wants his £100m bonus…

What do you make of the comments of Wizz Air’s CEO?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Conversations (22)
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  1. Michael_FFM Member

    Based on Varadis’ statement that one fifth of the crews are calling in sick due to fatigue, I wonder if fatigue is used as a “joker”, because a fatigue claim must never be questioned. The company operates in European airspace and must follow European crew-related laws after all.

  2. John Guest

    Typical management scum motivated by greed and personal profit at the (potential) ultimate price for everyone. This is exactly how accidents have happened in the past. I hope their board lets him go

  3. Marshalg New Member

    Fatigue has been the cause of all too many aviation accidents. Flight crews need discretion to determine their own level of readiness and need to be encouraged to do so. Outrageous.

  4. Azamaraal Diamond

    I don't think a CEO is actually telling pilots to fly while fatigued in the clinical sense. There is a significant difference between true fatigue and being tired. That's why there are two pilots (or more) on long flights.

    The remarks can be taken out of context and sensationalized. If a large number of pilots are booking off because of 'fatigue' then one has to question the motive. Like truck and bus drivers, there a...

    I don't think a CEO is actually telling pilots to fly while fatigued in the clinical sense. There is a significant difference between true fatigue and being tired. That's why there are two pilots (or more) on long flights.

    The remarks can be taken out of context and sensationalized. If a large number of pilots are booking off because of 'fatigue' then one has to question the motive. Like truck and bus drivers, there a rules to how many hours one can operate without breaks to prevent fatigue but it appears that this might not be the case.

  5. Pete Guest

    Varadi is known to be a CEO that build the company from the very start, whilst caring for his employees and showing integrity. The airline certainly doesnt follow Ryanair"s O"Leary"s path. Most people commenting here have clearly never flown with Wizzair. I think these comments are taken out of context and believe there is more going on here than a $100m bonus.

  6. Mrs. Fannie Teresa Stevens Halofaki Guest

    What are u serious?

    Better take the safer approach than be sorry.

    Regulators time to do Internal and external audits to enhance Safety Management Systems.

  7. Dustin Guest

    I would rather see data around the demanded flight/work hours these pilots are asked to accomplish. It might be too much (clear company fault), or it might be in line with, or less than regulated flight hours. FAA, for example, strictly regulates these numbers in a commercial environment. This might indicate poor time work/life management of employees, or just a bad culture in the organization (also company fault). We're all human.

    This could be a...

    I would rather see data around the demanded flight/work hours these pilots are asked to accomplish. It might be too much (clear company fault), or it might be in line with, or less than regulated flight hours. FAA, for example, strictly regulates these numbers in a commercial environment. This might indicate poor time work/life management of employees, or just a bad culture in the organization (also company fault). We're all human.

    This could be a crappy leader/company, could be lazy employees, could be somewhere in the middle. Without objective data, how would we judge?

    Final Caveat: NObody is going to claim that safety should not be #1 in ANY industry, expecially aviation. The question has to be: Is the company asking the employees to perform an UNSAFE amount of work?

    (My guess: Probably yes, but again, I personally wouldn't judge without appropriate data.)

    Note: This opinion coming from an FAA-certified private pilot. I am NOT a commercial pilot.

  8. John Doe Guest

    There’s obviously a problem at the airline with crew using “fatigue” inappropriately. But as CEO he needs to choose his words better. I work for a healthcare organization that just dealt with a nurses strike. The CEO said both of the following things in the same letter. 1. Striking nurses are putting patient’s safety at risk. 2. Patient’s are not a risk because we have secured skilled temporary replacement workers. Never fully trust the words of a CEO.

    1. Your master Guest

      Airline pilot checking in.. Ill call in sick or fatigued whenever i feel like it, just a little bit.

  9. Icarus Guest

    @Ben from Sunday, inbound covid testing for arrivals to the US won’t be required

    1. Daniel B. Guest

      Yes, I alerted Lucky earlier today to that, but my message disappeared- presumably because it had a link to a Twitter message

  10. Niko_jas Guest

    His frustration at the LSE listed share price dropping 46% in the last 6 months must have put him in a bad mood...

    1. betterbub Gold

      Not a bad mood. Just fatigued, like everybody else.

  11. The Joe Guest

    Seems like some people are in the "if he did say it, he didn't mean it, and if he did, you didn't understand it" part of the deflection.

    I can appreciate the notion that *maybe* these pilots are not using their Sick leave appropriately, but if that's the case, you address that issue, not some issue about needing to push the extra mile through fatigue.
    The comments as put forward are suggestive and dangerous....

    Seems like some people are in the "if he did say it, he didn't mean it, and if he did, you didn't understand it" part of the deflection.

    I can appreciate the notion that *maybe* these pilots are not using their Sick leave appropriately, but if that's the case, you address that issue, not some issue about needing to push the extra mile through fatigue.
    The comments as put forward are suggestive and dangerous. He could've said things differently, he could've not said anything at all.

  12. Daniel B. Guest

    Totally different but if the below tweet is true, the compulsory Covid-19 test before returning to the US will end in 2 days’ time:
    https://twitter.com/kaitlancollins/status/1535253030894850048?s=10&t=oaO4B-wR1Le-4NN_ilAecQ

    Anyone heard the same as above?
    I am not on Twitter, a friend forwarded it

  13. Sean M. Diamond

    It is also incumbent upon crewmembers to manage their own rest so that they are not fatigued when they receive rosters that are compliant with flight duty period regulations.

    I've personally never advised or instructed crew to fly through fatigue, but I have questioned the root cause of some fatigue claims. Sometimes, it indicates a genuine pattern that can be addressed. Often though, there is more to the issue than just physical fatigue, which is...

    It is also incumbent upon crewmembers to manage their own rest so that they are not fatigued when they receive rosters that are compliant with flight duty period regulations.

    I've personally never advised or instructed crew to fly through fatigue, but I have questioned the root cause of some fatigue claims. Sometimes, it indicates a genuine pattern that can be addressed. Often though, there is more to the issue than just physical fatigue, which is what I think he is implying here.

    For example. I've had to deal with a crewmember calling out "fatigued" after a 2 night layover. A call to the layover hotel revealed that the crewmember in question was fatigued because he spent the night in the local jail after being arrested for streaking through the lobby on a dare. In a situation like that, I too would expect him to "go the extra mile" - not by flying while drunk or tired, but by not getting himself into that situation in the first place.

    It isn't like any reasonable pilot is going to say "I'm too tired to fly but I'm going to listen to Varadi instead and risk my own life anyway". I don' t believe that is what Varadi is implying they should do either.

  14. Donato Guest

    The comments by Varadi and comments here can not be evaluated in a vacuum. there must be some background issues going on here. I suspect that there is a work action under there fatigue issues.

    1. Syd Guest

      Yeah, but not "evaluating comments in a vaccum" is not fun though. It's a lot easier and feels a lot better to just say "the guy wants to make his 100M euros and he gives no fs about safety."
      The approach you're suggesting requires a little more thought and leaves less room for grandstanding.

    2. X-CCCP Member

      Agree with both of you.

      Not to speculate but PROBABLY the guy does not actually mean fly fatigued...he implies that everyone lives with stress and we have to learn how to live and deal with it.

      But hey, sensationalism is what reporting all about today...

    3. Klaus Guest

      Thank you Syd, thank you Donato.
      (Yeah, it’s always easy to blame the CEO…but as long as customers and bloggers are looking at the best value, crew members have to sacrifice…)

  15. sushi New Member

    It’s an incentive issue. Who doesn’t want extra money, especially when it’s £100M?

  16. Eve Guest

    This was one of the key reasons why Norway were not allowing Wizz Air to open a hub in the country. Labour issues aside, there was also issues with the hiring practices of the airline and also a fear of the regional market becoming dominated by LCCs

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Dustin Guest

I would rather see data around the demanded flight/work hours these pilots are asked to accomplish. It might be too much (clear company fault), or it might be in line with, or less than regulated flight hours. FAA, for example, strictly regulates these numbers in a commercial environment. This might indicate poor time work/life management of employees, or just a bad culture in the organization (also company fault). We're all human. This could be a crappy leader/company, could be lazy employees, could be somewhere in the middle. Without objective data, how would we judge? Final Caveat: NObody is going to claim that safety should not be #1 in ANY industry, expecially aviation. The question has to be: Is the company asking the employees to perform an UNSAFE amount of work? (My guess: Probably yes, but again, I personally wouldn't judge without appropriate data.) Note: This opinion coming from an FAA-certified private pilot. I am NOT a commercial pilot.

1
Daniel B. Guest

Yes, I alerted Lucky earlier today to that, but my message disappeared- presumably because it had a link to a Twitter message

1
Icarus Guest

@Ben from Sunday, inbound covid testing for arrivals to the US won’t be required

1
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