The low-cost carrier EasyJet is endangering its passengers through the demanding schedule it imposes on its flight crew, it has been claimed.

France's pilots' union SNPL says staff are expected to work over legal flight times leaving them "exhausted" and meaning they were being "pushed to their limits every day".

Arnaud Wiplier of the SNPL said in an open letter to the carrier's main shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, how "a red line has been crossed and we are very shocked".

"The airline has eyes bigger than its stomach; the schedules are impossible," he said, referring to a timetable the union says is unrealistic and causes numerous delays and cancellations.

The union said that although they can refuse, pilots are being asked the exceed legal flight time limits "to facilitate an unachievable programme" but if they do refuse, they are summoned by management "to be intimidated".

"These are unbelievable practices," the letter dated 11 August said, adding that it added to tension across all staff, citing one example in which an airport worker was so exasperated, he came to blows with a passenger.

A spokesman for easyJet said: "We have resolved the issues with the SNPL pilot union in France and we will continue to work closely with them," he said. The airline added that it "would never compromise on safety".

In a statement on Tuesday (15 August), SNPL vice-president Nicolas Frick said progress had been made.

"SNPL and easyJet have reached a temporary resolution to the issues raised by the union last week and we are meeting later this week to continue our dialogue. Until that meeting, we will not comment further," he said.