easyJet: threat to flight safety
Paris, 15th July 2020 – Some might accuse us of sawing off the branch on which we are sat, but the elected representatives of SNPL easyJet, on behalf of 96% of all pilots based in France, warn our customers and the regulatory authorities that easyJet, usually a leader in flight safety, is now being run by management that has eroded several layers of protection against the risk of accidents in the last couple of weeks. We request commitments on flight safety and a decisive statement from easyJet in order to restore trust..
Our reaction has been provoked by the following facts: the department in charge of flight safety is being hit by hard cuts, and its independence in the face of commercial pressure is being compromised, against industry best practices. Furthemore, the new management has presented a plan where illness records will form a key part of the selection criteria for the dismissal of pilots based in the United Kingdom.
Normally, our passengers do not ask themselves the question of whether the pilots are under some form of pressure to operate their flight. Since last week, it is clear that pilots who were not in the condition to fly, physically or mentally, could have operated on easyJet aircraft, out of fear of losing their jobs.
While our flight manuals, the aviation authorities and the European-certified easyJet safety management system, all prohibit pilots from flying if they feel unfit, the new management at easyJet now threatens employees who choose to follow the rules and ensure flight safety by prioritising them for redundancy. This is in opposition with the company’s own policies which have always stated, in writing, that a pilot will always be supported for having made the right decision not to operate, minimising risk to passengers and crew.
More than a blunder, we observe a lack of foresight on the part of new decision-makers, struggling to find a business solution to the current health crisis.
This lack of clear thinking is also shown by the company’s hesitation towards restarting operations, in comparison with our competitors. Such lack of vision was also demonstrated by the new director of operations, ex-Ryanair, who said Covid-19 got “ridiculous press coverage”. He went to Milan at the start of the pandemic to meet the crew based there, without wearing a face mask, in order to reinforce his message.
Additionally, we have reservations about the honesty of this board member, considering that the Irish High Court ruled on the 23rd december 2019 that he had lied during his job interview at easyJet, regarding the number of leave days or other benefits he had in his previous position. Thinking nobody would notice, he also recently plagiarized the Irish Prime Minister’s speech during one of his messages to employees of easyJet. For reasons that escape us, the majority of the board continues to trust him.
The result of these unfortunate choices is a hidden pressure on pilots to carry passengers when they are sick, potentially suffering from a pathology incompatible with their job, including Covid-19. This is an important degradation of aviation safety.
SNPL easyJet calls on easyJet Airline Management Board, the national regulatory authorities and the European Aviation Safety Agency to stop these practices, which are an erosion of safety for easyJet passengers and employees. It is crucial that pilots get the commitment, that not this time nor in the future, choosing flight safety would risk their employment.
The SNPL supports our colleagues on UK contracts, because even if the French labour code makes certain practices illegal here, we belong to the same company, and our colleagues also operate flights into France. We particularly support the British Airline Pilot Association (BALPA) which is launching a vote of no confidence on the Chief Operations Officer this week, which we will most likely relay in France. Better to saw off a toxic branch, than to let the whole tree rot.
SNPL easyJet Company Council
Arnaud Wiplier – president of the easyJet SNPL council +33 6 84 13 52 53
Nicolas Frick – vice president of the easyJet SNPL council +33 6 13 80 09 27
Michael Van Til – secretary of the easyJet SNPL council +33 6 59 11 63 99