|Croatia Airlines crew declares itself unfit to fly and cancels flight|
Cabin crew members rostered on to Croatia Airlines’ flight from Berlin to Dubrovnik last Sunday night, have been accused of staging a silent protest after they declared themselves unfit to fly, denied passengers the right to board the aircraft and returned home with an empty jet. Flight OU434 from Dubrovnik to Berlin was operated normally, with the Airbus A319 aircraft experiencing mild turbulence due to severe whether prior to landing. Following a safe touchdown, the four members of the cabin crew team declared themselves unfit to fly, cancelling the return service as a result. The actions of the crew has drawn criticism from the press and has cost the airline considerably as the aircraft returned to Dubrovnik empty that same evening, while passengers were rerouted onto a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt the following day and then onwards to Dubrovnik with Croatia Airlines.
Croatia Airlines’ spokeswoman, Ksenija Žlof, explained in more detail the events which took place that night. “After landing in Berlin, the captain talked to the cabin crew who declared themselves unfit to fly. The “fit to fly” category is completely subjective and depends on a range of elements such as the amount of accumulated fatigue and stress of the crew, both work-related and private”, Ms Žlof said. She noted that the crew’s decision not to perform the return leg is in line with European Union regulations. “That is what the four cabin crew members decided, while the cockpit crew declared itself fit to fly. Following talks between the pilot and crew, and in coordination with Croatia Airlines’ Operations Centre, it was decided for the aircraft to return to Dubrovnik empty, in order to put it back into service as soon as possible”. The crew rested in Dubrovnik overnight and flew on to Zagreb the following day.
At the time, severe weather was reported in and around Berlin, which forced the airport to shut down, however, Croatia Airlines’ aircraft landed in the German capital after it was reopened. Due to the crew’s actions, the Croatian carrier will have to cough up 250 euros per passenger in denied boarding compensation (DBC). Furthermore, the airline had to reroute all of its passengers onto a Lufthansa flight the next morning, first to Frankfurt and then onwards to Dubrovnik, with travellers arriving at their final destination some eighteen hours behind schedule. The crew’s actions have led the media to speculate that they were staging a silent protest against the management.