Wizz Air

Pilots and cabin crew from Wizz Air Malta, a subsidiary of the Italy-based Wizz Air, will be striking for four hours on Tuesday 28th May, from 1pm to 5pm.

The crew, currently being represented by the Italian Transport Federation – Italian Confederation of Workers’ Union (FIT-CISL), will be striking in demand for better conditions from the low-cost carrier.

Only flights departing from Italy during the scheduled striking hours will be impacted. Furthermore, a search on the Wizz Air website reveals that the airline does not operate flights from Italy to Malta. The airline, however, operates flights to Malta from Budapest (Hungary), Katowice, Warsaw, Krakow (Poland) and Skopje (North Macedonia).

FIT-CISL is currently highlighting four crucial points for Wizz Air to act on. These are, the violation of laws regulating occupational health and safety, equal opportunities between men and women, information and consultation of employees, and the protection and support of maternity and paternity.

Therefore, it is requesting FIT-CISL members to be granted a collective labour agreement to ensure protected rights.

The union shared that despite the airline’s success ending financial year 2024 with a net profit of €365.9 million, the crew’s salaries have remained stagnant. For this reason, union members are demanding pay that aligns with inflation.

Additionally, it noted that the airline’s current policies don’t provide sufficient guarantees for pregnant women. Therefore, it is also demanding Wizz Air to improve maternity leave policies including job protection and the introduction of specific support measures for mothers returning back to work.

An ongoing saga

Prior to the strike, the union had requested an urgent meeting with Wizz Air on 28th March to discuss and resolve the issues at hand.

Despite so, the union stated that the meeting did take place, and it had continued to escalate the issues.

While both parties eventually met, “the follow-up meeting did not resolve their issues.”

Addressing the strike with Simple Flying, Wizz Air Malta’s managing director, Diarmuid O’Conghaile, replied that the airline is “challenging the legality of the announced strike, therefore cannot comment on legal matters nor on its internal communications with its employees.”

Mr O’Conghaile recognised that the airline faced challenging operational issues, to which he said that it has since fixed.

Additionally, he noted that at Wizz Air, employees also recognise the right to join a trade union.

“We also recognise [their] right not to join any union but to pursue, instead, a genuine dialogue with the management of the airline. This has proven to work well over the last 20 years, in which we had no union involvement but maintained open dialogue with [them],” he continued.

Addressing employee wages, Mr O’Conghaile stated that Wizz Air would pay an all-employee bonus in July, even if the company had not reached its financial targets.

Reports show that the airline’s financial statements detailed an increase of 35.8 per cent year-on-year labour costs, which in turn reflects the airline hiring more staff (16.4 per cent year-on-year), higher aircraft utilisation and cost-of-living adjustments to salaries year-on-year.

Furthermore, he said that the airline’s business model allowed to deliver pay improvements while noting its recent salary changes in Italy.

However, the union argued that the new salary package would penalise its employees.

Earlier in April, it shared its disappointment in a statement. The union, although it acknowledged Wizz Air’s significant investment in Italy, they expressed their belief that the company’s growth must be accompanied by improved working conditions for its employees, including pilots and cabin crew.

Simple Flying also noted that O’Conghaile “admitted that Wizz Air might not get everything right the first time” and therefore listens to its people and understands the problems they might face.

Despite so, he added that “a strike is unnecessary and will not benefit anyone.” Additionally, for the sake of its passengers, he urged the crew not to participate.

Simple Flying reported that, in a memo sent by the union, all pilots and cabin crew could attend the strike, even if they did not hold a union membership. In addition, strike participants were requested to respect the rest days, shifts, minimum transit, and rest times, and overall adhering to their contracts.

Overall, the union shared that its ultimate goal is to ensure fairer, more dignified, and safer working conditions for Wizz Air Malta’s employees.

In May, Wizz Air’s Maltese subsidiary has scheduled departures from 23 airports in Italy. This totals to 758 weekly departures during the month.

The busiest airports for the airline are Rome Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport with 243 weekly departures, Milan Malpensa Airport with 103 weekly departures and Milan Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport with 71 weekly departures.

Wizz Air Malta was granted an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) by the European Aviation Safety Agency and an Operating Licence (OL) by the Malta Civil Aviation Directorate (CAD) on 26th September 2022 and began operations the following day.

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