Pilots and cabin crews across Europe are staging a “walkout for safety” today (22 January) in protest of proposed EU rules for flight time limitation and rest requirements.
The workers' unions say that a recommendation submitted to the European Commission by the European Aviation and Safety Agency (EASA) earlier this month does not go far enough in limiting working hours. The “walkout for safety” is being organised by the European Transport Workers Federation representing cabin crew and the European Cockpit Association (ECA) representing pilots.
Demonstrations will take place today in major airports across Europe including Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt and Milan. The unions will also deliver a petition of 100,000 signatures to the European Commission. They have not ruled out the possibility that the workers will walk off the job at some point today.
The EASA recommended that the 2008 aviation regulation be updated to limit shifts to 11 hours if they involve any night time flying, down from the current limit of 11 hours 45 minutes. The unions want a limit of 10 hours. The agency also recommends mandating weekly rest times for pilots who have worked flights with long delays, and a guarantee of sleeping accommodations for workers on long-haul flights. The Commission is expected to come forward with a proposal by the end of the year.
“For years now, aircrews have been waiting for safe rules to counter the dangers of crew fatigue on flight operations”, said Nico Voorbach, ECA president. “Surveys show that pilots and cabin crew are already struggling with high levels of fatigue, nodding off at the controls of aircraft. Nonetheless, EASA chose to disregard scientific recommendations and put forward a proposal that accepts high levels of aircrew fatigue.
”The three main European airline associations – Association of European Airlines, the European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Carrier Association – support the EASA recommendations. “Based on the EASA proposal, Europe will continue to have one of the strictest flight time limitation rules in the world,” the three groups said in a statement yesterday. “The adoption process of the final rules should therefore not be derailed as a result of misleading information.”