This winter, German airline Lufthansa will deploy 18,000 near-empty flights to maintain its takeoff and landing rights at airports, Le Soir reports, prompting officials to appeal to the European Commission to revamp airport regulations.
Before COVID-19, airlines were required to send out flights in at least 80 per cent of their scheduled slots to maintain their status. During the pandemic that was reduced to 50 per cent, a figure critics say remains too high to meet current global travel demands.
The Bulletin says Lufthansa plans to cancel 33,000 flights in January and February due to a lack of ticket sales.
RELATED: CHECK OUT THIS THUNDERSTORM SEEN FROM AN AIRPLANE
A PANDEMIC PROBLEM?
News of 'ghost flights' first made headlines in March 2020, when sudden lockdowns caused a sharp drop in the demand for air travel.
Catherine Livesley, founder of No Fly Travel Club, told Euronews Green a short-haul flight on a 737 emits almost twice the amount of carbon dioxide per hour than an average European family emits in an entire year.
Speaking with Frankfurter Allgemeine last month, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr acknowledged the problem, describing the 18,000 departures and landings as “empty, unnecessary flights.”
“It seems incomprehensible that we actively require airlines to produce these colossal emissions simply to secure landing slots - even at 50 per cent of normal capacity," Livesley said.
“Airlines and airports must make it a priority to find a better solution - and should be incentivised by governments to do so."
Thumbnail image courtesy: Pexels