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31 thoughts on “European Airlines Are Operating 18,000 Empty Flights Because of a Dumb Rule”

  1. this is about 50 flights a day, out of 30,000 intra-EU flights.

    the law was obviously poorly written in that it focused on flights rather than passengers.

    probably has something to do with jobs, an empty flight still employs ground crews and mechanics and all that jazz. which is what the airports care about when it comes to terminal usage

  2. From the article, the rule in question would mean that, if this airline alone cancelled those flights they’d lose those slots at airports.

  3. The law itself makes sense in normal circumstances. You don’t want an airline booking way more slots than they’re going to use because they could use it to restrict competitors from accessing airports. So you make a law that says they actually have to use the majority of the slots or lose them.

    It’s an interesting problem, and fixing it might be more complicated than it seems.

  4. Are the flights actually empty, or do they carry freight as well even if they don’t have passengers? How many of these flights are still necessary for the company to assure they have a plane in the correct location to transport passengers on the next scheduled flight? How does this compare to airlines in other parts of the world?

    There seems to be a lot missing here.

  5. The flip side to this is that airlines retaining slots and not flying them can cause drops in capacity to the extent that people can’t get flights. Airlines want to hoard slots to retain optionality and drive out competition, so there’s an inherent incentive for airlines to try to retain slots that they don’t need / use.

  6. It should be noted that the EU’s body that regulates these flight plans disputes the need for these flights as the rules were changed during the pandemic: https://www.aci-europe.org/media-room/366-eu-rules-on-airport-slot-thresholds-offer-protection-for-airlines-during-the-pandemic-with-no-viable-reason-for-so-called-ghost-flights-says-airport-body.html

    > The usage threshold for the current season, Winter 21, is set at 50%. This is, as the European Commission has just reiterated, a significantly lower threshold than that set under the 80/20 ‘use it or lose it’ principle applicable in normal times. It is designed to reflect the uncertainties of a badly hit market and fragile recovery for aviation.

    >Crucially, and as a direct result of the ongoing uncertainties posed by the pandemic, there is also in place a specific provision for what the Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines calls “Justified Non-Use of Slots” (JNUS). Airlines can at any point present the case to their slot-coordinators for the application of this provision, allowing them to effectively use their allocated airport slots for less than 50% of the time. This provision is specifically designed to address the COVID pandemic, and covers not only outright travel bans, but also restrictions of movement, quarantine or isolation measures which impact the viability or possibility of travel or the demand for travel on specific routes.

  7. People are using LED bulbs and installing solar panels and wind farms like crazy trying to make things better. Meanwhile the EU: let’s just burn all the jet fuel because of bureaucracy!

  8. So there’s this really dumb rule and the gods of rules won’t change it. If all the airlines are protecting is landing and takeoff rights, they can get a Cessna 172, slap “Airline” on the side of it, fly it in from the nearest dirt strip, then take off on schedule and fly back to wait until next time. Self-solved.

  9. Also note, pilots have to stay current, and once you lose accreditation to land at, say, Heathrow, its difficult to get back.

  10. The regulatory fix here is straightforward: allocate airport slots based on people moved, not flights. It would incentivize full planes, which has environmental benefits.

  11. How many ppl drive solo more than 20 miles each way at least 5 times a week? Waste is everywhere. Seems like they could easily grade this on a curve though. Especially because it’s been overridden before.


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