/Brussels denies that Lufthansa is forced to make ghost flights to keep “slots”
Brussels denies that Lufthansa is forced to make ghost flights to keep “slots”

Brussels denies that Lufthansa is forced to make ghost flights to keep “slots”

The European Commission denied this Thursday that Lufthansa was forced to carry out 18,000 phantom flights in order not to miss the landing and take-off slots, noting that the rules for ‘slots’ were relaxed due to the pandemic.

“For the Commission, ghost flights are bad for the economy and the environment and that’s why we took measures since the beginning of the pandemic”, declared the European Commission’s spokesman for the area of ​​transport, Stefan de Keersmaecker.

Speaking to the European press after the German aviation group Lufthansa came to inform that it carried out 18,000 phantom flights at the end of the year, 3,000 of which by Brussels Airlines, in order not to lose their ‘slots’, Stefan de Keersmaecker recalled that ” airlines can ask not to use slots”.

EU slot rules dictate that airlines must use at least 80% of their take-off and landing in order to maintain them in the following season.

However, due to the covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions adopted to contain the outbreaks, this obligation was suspended to also avoid the called ‘ghost flights’, operated by companies just so they don’t lose their air ‘slots’.

At the moment, a relief to community rules is in place, with airlines being able to return 50% of their series of slots, and must use at least 50% of the remaining slots if they want to keep them.

In mid-2021, the European Commission proposed to extend, until March 2022, this relief from EU rules for airline take-off and landing slots, due to the still visible effects of the pandemic in the sector. Even so, the percentage of use should be gradually increased as air traffic improves.

Prior to that, in March 2020, the EU adopted a full derogation from the summer slots of that year. year, a measure that was later extended and succeeded by this relief.

According to European sources, all European airlines took advantage of this measure, including Lufthansa and its subsidiaries (Brussels Airlines , Swiss and Austrian Airlines).

This Thursday’s reaction from the European Commission comes after Lufthansa came to claim that it carried out 18,000 ghost flights at the end of last year to maintain the ‘ slots’, 3,000 of which are operated by Brussels Airlines.

Lufthansa has also indicated that it plans to cancel, between January and March, 33 thousand flights due to the drop in bookings due to the highly contagious variant of Omicron concern. Due to the pandemic, Lufthansa even received nine billion euros in state aid.

On Wednesday, the low-cost airline Ryanair, which has been very critical of state support for aviation, asked the European Commission to ignore these “false allegations” about slots, further suggesting that it “force Lufthansa and other state-subsidized airlines to release ‘slots’ they do not wish to use”.

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