Health Minister Bent Høie is reevaluating Corona virus containment measures after several members of foreign airline crews for Hungarian airline Wizz Air tested positive after landing in Oslo. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that five Wizz crew members were put in isolation at a hotel near Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen.
Wizz Air has stirred controversy since it announced it would start flying domestic routes in Norway this fall. The low-fare carrier offered tickets from Oslo to Bergen and Trondheim, for example, for as low as NOK 99 in its introductory effort to lure the few people still flying these days away from Norway’s other domestic airlines SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe.
In order to offer such low fares, Wizz is flying in pilots and cabin crew from Poland, who are paid much less than unionized Norwegian workers are. Poland, however, has had very high infection rates and the leader of Oslo’s city government fears Wizz will bring more Covid-19 infection to Norway.
“We’re in the midst of the second wave of infection in a pandemic … and Wizz Air starts flying routes in Norway with personnel from one of the countries with the highest infection rates in Europe,” fumed Oslo city government leader Raymond Johansen of the Labour Party to DN. “It’s incredible that a company can operate so irresponsibly.”
Current anti-infection rules for people arriving from abroad demand 10 days of quarantine, but there are been exemptions for airline crews who usually fly right out of the country again. Wizz’ cheaper imported crews are due to to stay longer, prompting state officials to evaluate tightening the entry rules.
DN reported that Wizz has already been flying in Polish crews to work from a new base in Trondheim due to open in December. They’re going through quarantine at a hotel near Trondheim’s airport in Værnes. Plans reportedly call for around 150 pilots and cabin crew to be stationed in Norway, working shifts of five days on duty and four days off, during which it’s unlikely they’ll be able to go home to Poland because of quarantine rules upon reentry.