ALMOST empty flights hurt airlines and add to pollution due to European Union rules which have to be followed in order to keep landing rights.
As has been seen over the past two years, many airlines across Europe have had to be bailed out by their governments, or alternatively allowed to go bankrupt and this isn’t helped by the European Union.
Prior to the pandemic, there was a requirement for those airlines with routes into major European airports to run a minimum of 80 per cent of their flights (regardless of passenger numbers) in order to retain landing rights.
Since the pandemic and outside of lockdown, the requirement was reduced to 50 per cent of flights until the end of March 2022 and will then be increased to 64 per cent, but with the drastic reduction in air travel, this is still considered by many airlines as being overly burdensome.
The Belgian Government has recognised this and is aiding a formal attempt by budget airline Brussels Airlines to have this percentage reduced again as they estimate that they could be running around 1,000 unnecessary flights a month during the start of 2022 as few businessmen are travelling around Europe.
In the long term, they expect business travel to recover but in the meantime are losing money on these flights as well as pumping more pollution into the atmosphere.
To make matters worse for these and other airlines travelling to major European airports, those airlines flying to regional airports are not restricted in the same way and can cancel or consolidate flights without penalty.
If this approach to the EU is successful then all of the main airlines landing at major European destinations will benefit although it may make it just that more chaotic for travellers.
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