European Airlines Flying Near-Empty Flights To Save Airport Slots

An interesting phenomenon is taking place all across Europe in the aviation industry.

European airlines – already suffering from COVID-19 staffing shortages that have led to delays and cancellations just like U.S. carriers – are flying empty or near-empty flights all over the continent.

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The reason?

Instead of having passengers rebooked on other flights to condense their schedules, none of the European carriers want to risk losing their lucrative slots and gates at some of the most prominent international airports.

According to numerous reports, including the Associated Press, aviation leaders overseas are trying to pressure the European Union to amend the rules regarding airport slots, especially because flying empty or near-empty flights is being heavily scrutinized by environmental activists.

Arrival and departure slots are not only pricey propositions, especially for the more popular routes, but the airlines have to guarantee airports that they will fly a certain amount of flights in order to maintain those gates.

According to the Associated Press, Brussels Airlines said that further inaction by EU officials in making a decision about the rules regarding slot access would lead the carrier to continue making upward of 3,000 empty or near-empty flights this winter.

In addition, German national carrier Lufthansa said it might have to fly 18,000 “unnecessary” flights over the next several months for the same reasons.

European aviation leaders want EU officials to adopt the policy of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which waived minimum slot-use rules through March 26.

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