W!ZZ AIR first to earn an EASA AOC
Hungarian carrier with EU expansion plans
Can standard setting agency move to micro surveillance?
EASA is a pan-European Union aviation safety regulator. According to the definitive legal treatise on the EU organizations:
It carries out certification, regulation and standardisation and also performs investigation and monitoring. It collects and analyses safety data, drafts and advises on safety legislation and co-ordinates with similar organisations in other parts of the world.
Its activities were primarily directed to setting aviation safety standards for the EU membership collectively, for example EASA implements and monitors safety rules (including inspections in the member states), gives type certification of aircraft and components, and approves organisations involved in the design, manufacture and maintenance of aeronautical products.
That said, the Director General (presumably the Parliament and Commission) has been advancing EASA’s mission as a direct regulator. In Wall Street Journal interview, Ky explained why he was able to consolidate these independent safety records:
“’My job is to increase the safety level in Europe,’ he said last week in an interview, by consolidating national and regional efforts, and particularly focusing on ‘the consistency, coherence of the system.’ …”
“Already, he has called for additional protections for airliners flying over combat zones and sought to insert himself into debates over airport security. He also has proposed creating a pan-European cadre of airline inspectors to fill national gaps. At the same time, EASA is moving to oversee unmanned aircraft in a dramatically different way from traditional proscriptive regulations.”
W!ZZ Air operates 126 planes [two aircraft types (A320, A321)] with multiple bases, among 46 countries and over 160 cities. It has dynamic expansion plans. An inspector, who has been exercising macro surveillance, may not be well suited to make the micro judgments—crew competence, cockpit training, maintenance programs, flight attendants’ safety functions, airworthiness, files and records, among a whole host of expertises.
Mr. Ky’s assumption direct responsibility for an AOC may have more transition issues than expected. The EASA website may be transparent to Europeans, but a search did not find a surveillance plan, assignment of Aviation Safety Inspectors, etc. Given EASA’s multi-jurisdictional authority and its direct W!ZZ AOC responsibility, if the Hungarian carrier has an accident in a 3rd country, how would the roles be defined? Might not EASA find fault with the 3rd Country’s ATC performance and not place and blame on W!ZZ. What appeal of the EASA determination could the 3rd Country take—EASA?
On August 1st, Wizz Air Hungary became the first airline to obtain an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The carrier has taken advantage of a relatively new regulation it believes will support its “multinational expansion” across the EU.
EASA oversight from August 1st
In 2018, the EASA introduced Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139. This provides companies operating in more than one EU member state to request that the EASA acts as its competent authority, responsible for safety oversight and regulation.
Now, Wizz Air Hungary has become the first airline to take advantage of the two-years-old regulation. On Monday, the Hungarian low-cost-carrier announced that it had obtained an EASA Air Operator Certificate, effective August 1st.
“I am delighted to announce that Hungary is the first Member State that innovates Europe’s airline regulation, while Wizz Air Hungary is the first airline to have EASA as a European competent authority overseeing its AOC,” József Váradi, CEO of Wizz Air said in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
Hungary remains in control of routes
However, Wizz Air Hungary will continue to fly under the Hungarian flag. Furthermore, the Hungarian Civil Aviation Authority continues to exercise control over the carrier’s operating license and route permits.
“This groundbreaking regulatory model between the Hungarian and European authorities underpins Wizz Air’s growth ambitions and provides many new opportunities to innovate the industry as it has done during the past 16 years,” Mr. Váradi continued.
EASA executive director Patrick Ky adds, “We are very happy to have such a young and dynamic airline as the first airplane operator under oversight of EASA. The EU operating certificate is well-suited for airlines such as Wizz Air which have multiple operating bases in different EASA member states. As the centralized competent authority for Wizz Air’s operations, EASA will ensure an internationally recognized high standard of oversight for the airline.“
Supporting expansion plans
The carrier said it believes that acquiring an AOC from the EASA will benefit the “multinational expansion” of Wizz. The entire Wizz Air Group now operates a fleet of 126 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft, some of them of the neo variety, with an average age of only 5.5 years. It flies to 46 countries and over 160 cities and does not look to be satisfied yet.
While other airlines have contracted and downsized during the crisis, Wizz Air launched 200 new routes in its second quarter. Despite reporting a €108 million ($125.8 million) loss, the carrier remains committed to new aircraft deliveries.
The past few months alone, it has announced new bases in Abu Dhabi, Larnaca, Milan, and Tirana. Furthermore, Wizz Air’s management remains optimistic even in the face of the ongoing pandemic, believing the airline could reach full recovery in as little as a year.
EASA happy to oversee a dynamic airline
The EASA is also pleased with the acquisition of its first airline over which to exercise oversight.
Altogether, what are your thoughts on this progress for Wizz Air? Let us know what you think in the comment section.
Journalist – With a Masters in International Relations, Linnea has combined her love for current affairs with her passion for travel to become a key member of the Simple Flying team. With eight years’ experience in publishing and citations in publications such as CNN, Linnea brings a deep understanding of politics and future aviation tech to her stories. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
 Florin Coman-Kund (2018). [ European Union Agencies as Global Actors: A Legal Study of the European Aviation Safety Agency, Frontex and Europol]. Abingdon, Oxfordshire; New York, New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781138293045.
 “I don’t think EASA should limit itself just to safety,” according to Margus Rahuoja, Director of Aviation and International Transport at the European Commission. “We are willing to give them greater authority, but they have to be ready in terms of resources and maturity.”
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