Zero-hour pilot contracts threaten air safety, says study (

February 18, 2015

Airlines are increasingly using zero-hour contracts, pay-to-fly schemes, and temporary employment agencies based outside the EU to hire pilots and cut costs, practices which undermine passenger safety and social standards, a report by the University of Ghent has found.

According to the report, which was financed by the European Commission, airlines have turned to “creative hiring practices”. 6,000 pilots were questioned in a survey. Out of the 6,000, 4,200 (70%) were self employed and working for a low fare airline.

The remaining 30% were hired through agencies or were on a zero-hour contract. A zero-hour contract does not oblige the employer to offer work and the employee can reject any of the hours offered. While it allows workers flexibility, trade unions claim that zero-hour workers tend to earn less and are at risk of being exploited.

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