What’s Going On Here?
Almost 15,000 “ghost flights” departed from the UK since March 2020, with no or fewer than 10% passenger capacity.
What Does This Mean?
Two years ago, when borders were closed and air passengers grounded, we covered the bizarre reality that airlines run flights with no, or very few passengers simply to hold landing slots at airports (they lose them if they are not sufficiently used). An infuriating, seemingly pointless and devastatingly carbon intensive activity.
There are rules that require 80% of landing slots to be used. After campaigning early in the pandemic, these were relaxed and airlines did not have to operate flights. However, newly revealed data shows that 14,472 ghost flights still left the UK between March 2020 and September 2021.
The rules are being gradually reinstated and will rise to 70% utilisation at the end of March. Luis Gallego, the chief executive at IAG, BA’s parent company, said:
“This decision would force airlines to operate flights with low load factors, which will generate unnecessary CO2 emissions. This is bad for the environment and detrimental to aviation’s efforts to tackle climate change.”
Why Should We Care?
And that’s just the UK! A Greenpeace investigation states that there could be more than 100,000 ghost flights in Europe this winter (2.1million tons of GHG), equivalent to the yearly emissions of 1.4 million cars.
It’s well known that the aviation sector is a BIG emitter. In fact, data from 2019 showed that taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries produces in a whole year.
We are in a climate crisis and the transport sector has the fastest growing emissions in the EU. Wasteful ghost flights are just one example of how regulation and business profits are limiting decarbonisation efforts.
Greenpeace is calling on the European Commission and national governments to end the rule encouraging ghost flights, and to ban short-haul flights where there is an alternative train connection under six hours.
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Learn more about the topic here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8XZriAdB1g