Hungarian operator Wizz Air has applied for a U.S transatlantic cargo licence. The licence is for an Airbus A330 leased from the Hungarian Government.
Wizz going West
The Hungarian carrier applied for an “initial foreign air carrier permit” with the U.S Department of Transportation (DoT) on 18 Jan this year. Should it be accepted, this would allow them to run flights to the U.S. Wizz Air is a low-cost airline based in Budapest, with all of its destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Competitors such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways may be concerned that the airline will use the permit for passenger flights. However, Wizz Air has stated that they will only use it for cargo, telling the press this week:
“Wizz Air confirms that it has filed a request for a foreign air carrier permit in the US for the A330 freighter aircraft owned by the Hungarian Government and operated by the airline. The purpose of this request is to secure any possible future commercial cargo operations to and from the United States.”
The A330 in question is HA-LHU, which is wet-leased to Wizz air by the Hungarian Government and is deployed solely on cargo charters between Budapest and China. The A330 is the only dedicated cargo freighter operated by the low-cost airline.
Labour rights concerns
The application has sparked concerns among U.S carriers, with some stating that it left out “fundamental data” such as destinations, though Washington has been named. There are also worries about Wizz Air’s poor track record regarding labour rights. Earlier this week, the Danish pension fund AkademikerPension announced that it would start to divest its $3.4m stakes in the airline over alleged “human and labour rights abuses” towards its workers. Unions in America have the same concerns. They are asking the DoT only to accept the application on the condition that Wizz Air allows its workers to unionise.
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