One of the most rapidly expanding airlines in Europe is implementing a fixed roster pattern for pilots and cabin crew in an effort to remove criticism of its employee policies and attract fresh talent to fill an increasing number of openings across the continent.
Pilots and cabin crew have typically been required to work irregular shift schedules that alter from month to month. There is no defined schedule, unlike in many industries, and aircrew may not know their schedule until a few weeks in advance.
Airlines that operate hub networks and send their crews on layovers or extended excursions must use this technique of rostering. For airlines that run point-to-point flights and have crew bases spread out, it is less significant.
In 2015, Ryanair implemented a five-day on/three-day off schedule for cabin crew as part of a pay and productivity agreement that was intended to promote crew performance while also promoting a better work-life balance.
Now, the budget airline Wizz Air from Hungary plans to follow Ryanair by implementing its own fixed roster for pilots and cabin employees. In October 2022, the first fixed roster pattern will be deployed, however, it might take up to six months for the roster to be implemented throughout Wizz Air’s network.
Aircrew will have the choice of staying on a flexible schedule or switching to a set roster.
Although Wizz Air’s set roster can vary depending on the base, it will probably be similar to what Ryanair provides. The three early shifts are followed by three days off for the cabin staff, followed by five late shifts and another three days off.
Wizz Air is reportedly proposing a slightly less generous roster pattern of five/three, five/two, according to sources.
“The new scheme has been developed to ensure it maintains the airline’s operational stability as well as supporting its ambitious development plans,” the airline said in a statement.
“Pilots choosing to remain with their current flexible roster pattern will be offered compensation based on their rank,” the statement continued.
After chief executive József Váradi appeared to imply in a leaked internal video that pilots should keep flying when they were tired, Wizz Air came under fire from the European Pilots Association (ECA) in June.
“Such statements are detrimental for safety and brush aside decades of research and scientific consensus about the dangers of fatigue in aviation,” the ECA warned.
A Danish pension fund announced earlier this year that it would sell its stock in the airline due to suspected violations of “human and labor rights.” According to the European Transport Workers Federation, Wizz Air has had trouble filling positions in several regions due of the poor terms and conditions it is providing.