AIR TRANSPORT : PILOTS WANT MEPS TO REJECT FLIGHT TIMES PROPOSAL
The European Parliament's Committee on Transport (TRAN) will decide, on 30 September, whether or not to reject the European Commission's proposals on flight times for pilots. Until then, lobbying looks set to be intense: the European Transport Federation (ETF) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which are both opposed to the draft text, will try their utmost to convince MEPs to reject it. In a statement, published on 23 September, they call the proposed rules “unacceptable” and call on Parliament to reject the proposal – even if this means throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
While the proposal introduces stricter rules than those currently in force, limiting flight duty period at night to 11 hours, compared with 11 hours and 45 minutes today (under Regulation 1899/2006), this is not enough for ETF and ECA. Based on scientific studies, the associations say that flight times at night should be limited to ten hours. They are also concerned over rules allowing crews to be on standby for eight hours and consequently to take a flight duty of up to 14 hours, meaning they would have to remain awake for a total of 22 hours. “Would you get on board a plane if you knew that the pilot had been awake for 22 hours when landing? In the future, you won't have a choice,” said Nico Voorbach, pilot and president of ECA.
François Ballestero, political secretary of ETF, criticised “a blunt example of the democratic deficit in the EU,” since the proposal is now in comitology and MEPs will have no choice but to accept or reject the entire proposal, with no possibility of amending it. This, he said, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
“MEPs have a democratic mandate and it is time for them to say stop'. The only thing they need is five minutes of political courage to dare to reject the Commission proposal, so it can be improved in line with what Europe's citizens expect.”
The question remains whether – if the proposal is rejected – the Commission will propose a legislative review via the classic route of co-decision, as called for by the Greens and GUE-NGL groups in a draft resolution. This would be put to the vote in TRAN, on 30 September. Nothing has yet been decided.
TRANSPORT: Final appeal by unions against flight time review
The European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA) are keeping up the pressure over the new flight time rules that they desperately want MEPs to reject when, as part of the comitology procedure, the transport committee (TRAN) debates them on 30 September. The two associations have again argued that, if adopted, the Commission proposals would diminish air safety, as they fail to take account of the scientific evidence on pilot and aircrew fatigue. Among the most striking examples is that of an 11 to 12-and-a-half hour night-time flight being allowed, even though scientific experts consistently recommend a maximum of 10 hours as being the safe limit. “MEPs have a democratic mandate and it is time for them to say 'stop'”, said François Ballestero of the EFT in a press release on Monday.
“The only thing they need is five minutes of political courage to dare to reject the Commission proposal, so it can be improved in line with what Europe's citizens expect”, he went on to say. An amendment calling for rejection has been put down by Greens and GUE MEPs.