Planes forced to fly around Europe with no passengers due to EU red tape – ‘unnecessary’.
AIRLINES have accused the European Union of forcing them to operate tens of thousands of “ghost flights” to keep their airport landing slots.
Environmentalists have slammed the directives that cause massive environmental damage, with many of them requesting that the new rules be changed.
As soon as the coronavirus hit the continent in early 2020, the rules were waived, which normally required airlines to use at least 80% of their allocated slots at airports.
However, the EU has begun to reinstate them, and the European Commission set the winter travel season’s threshold at 50% last month.
According to the company, between mid-December and mid-March, the Lufthansa Group, which includes Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, and Swiss, had to take 18,000 unnecessary flights to comply with Brussel’s guidelines.
Due to a drop in demand caused by a wave of omicron infections across the continent, the airline group said it plans to cancel 33,000 scheduled flights by the end of March.
“Other regions of the world are taking a more pragmatic approach here, for example [in the US]temporarily suspending slot rules due to the current pandemic situation,” said Boris Ogurksy, a Lufthansa spokesman.
“Both the environment and airlines benefit from this.”
Many of the 18,000 flights have been described as “empty, unnecessary” flights by Carsten Spohr, the airline group’s CEO.
After it was revealed that Belgium’s national flag carrier was being forced to make so many empty flights, Belgium’s mobility minister, George Gilkinet, called on Brussels to end this “environmental, economic, and social nonsense.”
Greta Thunberg, a teen environmentalist, tweeted sarcastically, “The EU surely is in a climate emergency mode.”
Greenpeace called the empty flights “absurd” and said they represented “a new low for the government-subsidized sector.”
A campaign group called operating empty planes “bull**** flights.”
“It appears that the fact that we are in a severe climate crisis and that flights are the quickest way to fry the planet has not reached the heads of decision makers and airlines,” the group said.
“If it had, no more empty flights would be permitted.”
“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have provided relief from the slots usage rule to mitigate financial harm to the sector and,” a Belgian Department of Transport spokesman told The Telegraph.
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