The World Daily
Ghost flights must be put to an end, say Greenpeace campaigners

Photo by EyeEm / Getty Images


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | JANUARY 28th 2022 


According to a recent analysis by Greenpeace, due to the slot usage rules of European Union airports, there could be as many as 100,000 ghost flights being flown across Europe throughout this Winter. This would generate millions of tons of harmful emissions, for no real reason.

These ‘ghost flights’ as they’re called, are almost entirely empty planes still making their journeys towards their destinations despite the complete lack of people on board. The only reason these flights are going on ahead is so that the airlines don’t lose their landing slots, perpetuated by EU airport rules which Greenpeace are demanding be scrapped soon.

“For us, a ghost flight is a flight that only has a maximum of a couple of passengers and is a flight, which the airline would not operate, without that slot regulation,” said Herwig Schuster, a spokesperson for Greenpeace’s European Mobility for All campaign.

The profitless and ultimately environmentally harmful flights are only continued so that airlines can keep their take-off and landing runways at airports, and the issue is not unique to the EU. Long-haul transatlantic flights to the US have also been noted as having very few-to-no passengers aboard.

“The EU Commission requiring airlines to fly empty planes to meet an arbitrary quota is not only polluting, but extremely hypocritical given their climate rhetoric,” Schuster added.

Greenpeace’s analysis had estimated that these unnecessary flights could lead to the generation of up to 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which has been compared to the amount of emissions that 1.4 million average petrol or diesel cars would emit annually. 


“Transport emissions are skyrocketing,” said Schuster. “It would be irresponsible of the EU to not take the low-hanging fruit of ending ghost flights and banning short-haul flights where there’s a reasonable train connection.”

It was on Monday when the Department for Transport had stated that airlines would need to give up their slots if they were not being used 70% of the time after March 27. At the current moment, the threshold for use is at least 50% of the time.

The threshold is typically set at 80% - a rule that had been set aside during the start of the pandemic in order to, ironically, stop ghost flights from occurring.

“As demand for flights returns, it’s right we gradually move back to the previous rules while making sure we continue to provide the sector with the support it needs,” said aviation minister, Robert Courts.

“It is inconceivable that international demand will average 70 per cent this summer,” said Willie Walsh, director-general of airline industry body Iata, who found plenty of problems with the decision. “The government is therefore condemning airlines to operate thousands of flights at low capacity which is environmentally stupid.”

Luis Gallego, chief executive of British Airways owner International Airlines Group, had agreed with this sentiment, saying: “In the current circumstances, this decision would force airlines to operate flights with low load factors which will generate unnecessary CO2 emissions.” 


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2022 

Source: The Guardian, Financial Times, EU Observer