17 Aug 2017

French Pilots Accuse Easyjet of Jeopardising Safety by Scheduling Too Many Flights

easyJet Plane

France’s pilots’ union, the SNPL, have written an open letter to the company’s main shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. In the letter they raise concerns that the flight schedule is unrealistic, and not only jeopardises safety but also leads to unnecessary delays and cancellations.

According to the union, captains are being pressurised into flying more hours than they are legally permitted, and face intimidation tactics from the airline if they refuse.

“A red line has been crossed and we are very shocked,” said Arnaud Wiplier, the president of the Easyjet section of the SNPL “The airline has eyes bigger than its stomach; the schedules are not possible.”

Wiplier told Le Figaro that Easyjet schedule too many flights in the summer, particularly at weekends, when the chances of cancellations 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 rejected the pilots’ criticism and said it was “surprised by their action”. The airline said it doesn’t compromise on safety and is structured to manage a normal level of disruption in the peak season.

A spokesman for easyJet said the dispute had been resolved after talks. “We have resolved the issues with the SNPL pilot union in France and we will continue to work closely with them,” he said.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Nicolas Frick, the vice-president of the SNPL union for easyJet, said progress had been made.

“SNPL and easyJet have reached a temporary resolution to the issues raised by the union last week and we are meeting later this week to continue our dialogue. Until that meeting, we will not comment further,” he said.

The open letter, dated 11 August, said “commercial teams are selling a schedule that the flight operators don’t have the means to carry out because of numerous cost-cutting measures.”

The letter also complained about daily flight cancellations and ground staff who did not “know what to say to passengers or even [how to] find them a hotel room”.

The union added: “The crew are also pushed to their limits every day, limits that have become objectives. We now ask our flight captains to use their discretion in order to overrun the legal limits on flight times.”

“Certain flight captains who refuse, as is their right … are even summoned by the management to Luton to be intimidated. These are unbelievable practices.”

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