Hundreds of “ghost” planes cross European skies through the coronavirus

The companies operate almost empty flights so as not to lose their slots. The EU will take provisional measures so that airlines do not lose their permits even if they do not fly

If there is an economic sector that is suffering with special virulence the effects of coronavirus, that's him aerial. The companies, especially the European ones, have been forced to gradually reduce their capacity in recent weeks in the face of the restrictions of movements imposed by the countries to contain the progression of the disease, a situation that is putting not only the finances of the airlines but also their future business plans. And is that The cancellation of frequencies is forcing many airlines to operate “ghost” flights so as not to lose their takeoff and landing rights.

The "slots", as these authorizations are known in aeronautical jargon, are the time slots that companies have assigned at airports to perform take-off and landing operations. Current regulations establish that Airlines must operate at least 80% of their assigned time slots if they do not want to lose their slots. This circumstance is what is leading many of them to fly empty or semi-empty airplanes, which burn tons of kerosene to protect those authorizations.


Because losing a "slot", explain sources in the air sector, can be a real drama for a company. In case of not fulfilling the requirement to operate 80% of the time slots, the permit is withdrawn by the air authorities, goes to auction and can be acquired by another airline. "And recovering it again is very complicated," they add.

Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requested that the regulations be modified due to the emergency situation in the sector. Yesterday, your requests were heard by the European Comission. Its president, Ursula von der Leyden, advanced that will soon introduce legislative changes so that airlines do not lose their “slots” by reducing their flights. Changes in takeoff and landing permits, said the EC president, they would be a "temporary" measure which will help both the industry, by easing the pressure on airlines, "especially small ones", and the environment, by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The measure, he said, is just one example of the actions that can be taken to help a sector for which "support is needed," he said.

IATA estimates that the coronavirus will have an impact on airlines that will exceed 100,000 million euros. In the case of airports, the benefit of the sector has plummeted by 1,320 million euros because of the coronavirus crisis, according to data from the International Airports Council (ACI). On the side of the aircraft manufacturers, Airbus announced last Thursday that it did not register any orders in February due to the uncertainty generated by the coronavirus. The figure contrasts with the record order of 274 aircraft registered in January.


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