Flight and cabin crew unions plan an EU-wide “walkout for safety” today to demonstrate against proposed European rules for flight time limitation and rest requirements.

Pilot unions claim that European policy-makers will risk passengers’ safety by adopting the new regulation submitted by the European Aviation and Safety Agency earlier this year.

But European airline bodies – the Association of European Airlines, the European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Carrier Association – have joined forces once again to emphasise that harmonised flight time limitation rules ensure ‘utmost safety’ in the air.

The three organisations insist that airlines “will never compromise on safety” and say the final proposed flight time limitation rules are not a relaxation of today’s rules as the unions suggest.

Instead they harmonise the different flight time limitation requirements that exist across Europe and even include some new and more restrictive requirements and limitations.

The safety agency’s final proposals are the result of an extensive review involving all stakeholders including national safety regulators, airlines and trade unions, and are based on robust safety data including the review of almost 50 different scientific studies, the three aviation organisations stress.

A joint statement said: “Based on the EASA proposal, Europe will continue to have one of the strictest flight time limitation rules in the world.

“National safety regulators, for example the UK Civil Aviation Authority, have welcomed the EASA proposal which, to a large extent, is equivalent to the current well proven UK CAP 371 rules.

“The adoption process of the final rules should therefore not be derailed as a result of misleading information.”