Some low-cost carriers are known for cutting corners when it comes to workers’ rights and paycheck, and it has been this way for a while, despite the efforts of unions and governments to keep the jobs of pilots and crewmembers at dignified levels, when it comes to pay and benefits. A new union condemnation has arrived at the ears of the international aviation community. And this time, it exposes one of the reasons why the “low-cost” model will cease to exist soon due to its unsustainability, according to some aviation experts.

Today’s case

Today, Wizz Air has come under fire from a subsidiary of a famous danish aviation union, called FPU Romania (Flight Personnel Union). The Union strives for better working conditions in commercial aviation in Eastern Europe and it’s against the phenomenon of social dumping. Instead, it’s in favour of the usage of this industry as a stem to make Romania flourish again as a nation, so that is not seen as a place where to get cheap labour easily. The latter adverb is not exactly correct, lately, due to staff shortage and strikes that are happening for better working conditions, also at Wizz Air.

It’s not the first time that FPU-R denounces the shortcomings of the Hungarian airline, especially after the CEO József Váradi asked the pilots “to go the extra mile” to complete the scheduled flights, despite being fatigued. That goes against the first rule of this industry, a rule taught to flight dispatchers, flight attendants and pilots alike: “You’ll never get punished for doing the safest thing, nor you should be asked to go against the safest course of action.” The statement clearly goes against this rule.

In today’s case, Wizz Air published the figures of its highly confidential pay scheme and FPU-R commented that such low pay is shocking and unacceptable. Plus, there are other infringements that the Airline is carrying out.

2 Wizzair cabin crew at MXP/LIMC (Milano Malpensa)
2 Wizzair cabin crew at MXP/LIMC (Milano Malpensa) ©il Giornale

To sum it up…

In a long post on Linkedin (that you can find here), FPU-R denounces that the 9-month long probation period (called “Junior Flight Attendant Status”) is illegal and according to the Art.31 of the Labour Code, the maximum for a flight attendant should be 3 months.

On another point, the union points out that “Wizz Air employees’ income is made up of three elements: basic salary, a flight segment allowance, which is 42 lei (8,5 Eur) for a flight lasting less than 119 minutes, and 75.6 lei (15,3 Eur) for a flight lasting more than 240 minutes. To this is added the commission from sales on board the aircraft.” The problem with this, according to them, is that this doesn’t include the calculation of the annual leave salary, which they are contesting in court.

Other critical points include the fact that the biggest part of the salary is subject to the nature of flying, which in the aviation business, is not always sure at 100% and the fact that the fixed salary is subject to the Swiss Labour Taxation, which leaves the highly trained professionals of the skies with a net of around 445 euros a month as average.

And to end it all, FPU-R says “Our members are constantly complaining of the unstable schedules, with endless changes, delays, and lack of communication with the Operation Control Centre (OCC), leaving them stranded in very difficult circumstances”.

We will keep you updated with other news articles about the state of the low-cost aviation industry.

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