New data has shown that there were almost 500 so-called ghost flight per month from the UK between December 2021 and October 2021. Environmental groups and MPs have criticized the practice.
According to a Freedom of Information request by The GuardianThe UK’s top five airports for ghost flights were Heathrow and Stansted. Between March 2020 and September 2018, nearly 15,000 of these flights left the UK.
Ghost flights are a problem for airlines, as there have been growing concerns about the impact of air travel on our environment. What exactly are ghost flights and why are they so controversial?
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What are ghost flight?
Ghost flights are flights with very few or no passengers. Ghost flights are those that have less than 10% passenger capacity.
Why do airlines operate ghost flights?
European Union law stipulates that airlines must maintain a minimum level of planned flights in order for them to be allowed to land at EU airports. Ghost flights are used by some airlines to meet this quota and keep their slots.
The EU quota was 80 percent prior to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this was temporarily suspended by Covid. It was reinstated at a lower rate, 50 percent in October 2021, and increased to 64% in March 2019.
Global travel is now returning to something near normal as countries reopen tourism after the worst of pandemic. Passenger numbers remain at pre-pandemic levels. Airlines continue to operate ghost flights to keep their slots.
What does ghost flight mean for the environment?
It is not yet clear what the exact environmental impact of ghost flights will be. However, more than 2 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s air travel industry are attributed to it, making it a significant contributor in climate change.
If they want to keep landing at major EU airports, airlines claim that they have no other choice but to operate ghost flights. Critics say this practice is incompatible with the urgent need for carbon reductions and our overall dependence on fossil fuels.
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