Lufthansa and the EU are fighting over slots: Up to 100 environmentally harmful empty flights a day

Ghost flights without passengers
Up to 100 environmentally harmful empty flights a day – Lufthansa and the EU are fighting over slots

Special livery for a Lufthansa Airbus A320

© Imago Images

In the conflict over the receipt of take-off and landing rights during the pandemic, Lufthansa continues to call for the EU Commission to relax. This argues that the airline is already benefiting from exemptions.

In the conflict over the receipt of take-off and landing rights during the Corona doldrums, the Lufthansa Group is still demanding relaxations from the EU Commission. On Thursday, the latter again rejected allegations that bureaucratic regulations on these so-called slots were forcing airlines to carry out empty or ghost flights that are harmful to the environment. The EU Commission in Brussels announced that Lufthansa was also benefiting from numerous exception rules that had been approved by the German slot coordinator.

Basically, this winter the airlines have to use at least half of their allocated time slots at certain airports, which are normally heavily used, in order not to have to give them up in the coming season. In pandemic-free times, the required rate was 80 percent. According to the Commission, the quota, which was reduced to 50 percent for the winter flight schedule, can be further undercut with exception rules that apply, for example, when new virus variants appear. The examination is subject to national coordinators. From March 28, the Commission plans to increase the usage rate to 64 percent.

Lufthansa has now complained about the inconsistent application of the exception rules. They are not used at all in more than 20 member countries and very differently in the others, said a company spokesman in Frankfurt. Currently, around 100 commercially unnecessary, hardly manned flights are operated in the group every day. Lufthansa is demanding flexible and unbureaucratic exceptions to the slot rules for the remainder of the winter flight schedule. The Commission should work for a uniform regulation in order to avoid unnecessary flights and to give the airlines the ability to plan.

Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr said in an interview shortly before the end of the year that the group would have to fly 18,000 unnecessary flights by the end of March in order to keep its time slot. Around 40 percent of these have already been flown, it said. For the remaining 11,000 unnecessary flights one hopes for solutions.

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– In the middle of the Christmas season: Lufthansa has to cancel flights due to high sick leave

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