WIZZ AIR’s battle with the Unions over Cargo Carrier Authority—international agreements will likely force DoT to agree

WIZZ AIR FACP application
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WIZZ AIR, of Hungry and EASA, requests cargo foreign air carrier permit

EU and US pilot unions oppose on SAFETY

Previous Norwegian Air application, drew same objections, but was approved

open skies mapOn January 2022, Wizz Air applied (see above) to the US Department of Transportation for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit (FACP) to operate cargo flights to the United States, using its Airbus A330 freighter.  Under the Open Skies agreement and with an application from a carrier based in a country with which the US/FAA has a bilateral agreement, this is ordinarily a ministerial act especially when the request is for cargo authority.

Like several prior FACPs from low cost carriers, the European and US airlines vociferously objected with allegations (see below) of inadequate safety surveillance. The earlier case, Norwegian applied with Ireland as the country holding its operator’s certificate, a primary office in Norway and bases in multiple jurisdictions:

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 19, 2013

ALPA Raises Flag Of Convenience Argument As To Norwegian Airline DoT Application And Safety Concerns

 FEBRUARY 19, 2014

IAA’s Reliance On Its Past Regulating Is Not Prologue To Surveilling Norwegian Air Shuttle’s FutureNorwegian Ops map per ALPA

OCTOBER 17, 2014

EU-US Dialogue On Norwegian Air International Should Focus On Aviation Safety

DoT Tentatively Grants Norwegian Air International Economic Authority; FAA Has Safety Obligations?

DECEMBER 5, 2016

The Barriers Are Down, Why Were They Torn Down? Here Comes The Dreaded Norwegian International

 JANUARY 25, 2018

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Is IAA Keeping An Eye On Norwegian Air Shuttle? ALPA

[NOTE: these JJ posts pointed to the burden for the Irish Aviation Authority to surveil such a geographically diverse operation.]

Wizz Air’s able counsel cited the DoT’s ultimate decision granting that FACP:

“Having conclusively lost the argument that alleged inconsistency with Article 17 bis of the Open Skies Agreement is a sufficient basis for DOT to find that a proposed air service is not consistent with the public interest, the Union Parties have had to pivot and scrounge for a new justification to block Wizz Air’s licensure to serve the United States, now asserting that Wizz Air’s handling of employment litigation against the company in Europe should trigger government-to-government consultations.”

The DoT “letter” indicating that the applicant had provided inadequate information for the FAA to determine whether  between European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Hungary  oversight “to be in a position to make a safety recommendation to the Department of Transportation”.

Rather than deny the application, the DoT kicked the case forward. Assuming that the carrier’s operations are far less complex than the Norwegian proposal, something like flights to/from Hungary and to/from the US, the FAA should be estopped from a negative response to the application. Though Hungary does not have an IASA rating, surveillance from EASA should suffice. The pan-European aviation safety organization has already declared

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Executive Director Patrick Ky, at the recent Air & Cosmos event, announced that his organization is seeking to expand its pan European authority from the European Commission. The goal is for the central agency to regulate directly production, surveillance, cybersecurity and the data systems which feed SMS.

EASA expansive view of Europe

PLUS, WIZZ AIR holds its AOC directly from EASA, in its 1st direct airline certificate

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.

WIZZ Air EASA AOC

WIZZ Air EASA AOC

Further to the credibility and reliability of Hungary under the USOAP, ICAO has given it more that acceptable ratings Safety Audit Results: USOAP.

ICAO USOAP chart

If Wizz Air refiles with a sound operational plan and a clear statement of surveillance, the DOT/FAA will have to contradict existing international agreements concurrently insulting allies. Will Sec. Buttigieg’s alliance with labor prevail over existing relationships with friendly countries.

buttitieg


 

US DoT rejects Wizz Air’s application for US cargo flights

 

Wizz's A330

 

AeroTime and Author

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has denied eastern European carrier Wizz Air’s application to operate cargo flights to the United States due to concerns over its safety oversight.  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it needed more information about the nature of safety oversight between European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Hungary, “to be in a position to make a safety recommendation to the Department of Transportation”. 

“In this case, the FAA has advised that it cannot make a determination at this time as to whether the safety oversight of Wizz Air Hungary is sufficient to support the award of economic authority to the applicant,” the US DoT said in an order dismissing the application.

Wizz Air will be able to refile its application once the regulator has more information about the safety oversight arrangement between EASA and the Hungarian CAA.

AeroTime has asked Wizz Air [[stet]ALPA?]for a comment.

I appreciate @USDOT and @FAANews for their work in helping keep our skies the world’s safest. In addition, we could not have done this without the support of our friends at @EU_Cockpit as well as many of our fellow #aviation #labor unions in the United States. #1u #UnionStrong https://t.co/ypDIAoSXVh

Capt. Joe DePete (@ALPAPresident) July 21, 2022

In January 2022, Wizz Air applied to the US DoT for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit (FACP) to operate cargo flights to the United States, using its Airbus A330 freighterUnions opposing Wizz

Just weeks after the Hungarian low-cost airline applied for the FACP, various pilot unions, including the Air Line Pilot Association (ALPA), the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), the Allied Pilots Association (APA), the European Cockpit Association (ECA), the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), urged the DoT to reject the application, saying the airline’s anti-union stance could potentially detriment flight safety.  

ALPA commented they were “grateful” that the DoT and FAA had listened to their concerns and “understood the potential risks that insufficient oversight of Wizz Air could pose to the safety of our aviation system”

Wizz Air CEO Jozsef VaradiWizz Air has previously dismissed any claims about lack of safety at the airline. However, in June 2022, Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi was criticized by a number of pilot unions following comments regarding pilot fatigue. The CEO once again sparked safety concerns by suggesting that too many pilots are reporting cases of fatigue and that they should keep working even if they are fatigued.    

 

 

 

Wizz headquarters



 

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