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EU Official Denies Rumours on Carriers Operating Ghosts Flights

Germany’s Lufthansa and the Irish ultra-low-cost carrier, Ryanair, have had a spat with one another a couple of weeks ago over the environmental impact of take-off slot rules in Europe.

Ryanair has accused Lufthansa of operating “ghost flights” as well as for making false claims about climate concerns to control competition, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The “use-it-or-lose-it” rule that has been adopted by the EU Commission permitted leading carriers to preserve access to the airport during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though there was a significant decrease in air traffic.

Such a thing has caused protests from low-cost rivals, including Ryanair and Wizz Air, which claim that these slots should be made available for low-cost carriers.

“Instead of operating empty flights just so they can block slots, Lufthansa should release the seats on these flights for sale at low fares to reward the German and European taxpayers,” the chief executive of Ryanair said.

A Lufthansa spokesperson said that the airline had never spoken in relation to these ghost flights in response to these accusations.

Under the rules that the EU has, airlines must use at least 80 per cent of their slots in order to be able to keep them for the next year.

These rules were temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that were imposed all over the world. However, the authorities decided to restore the rules partially.

Responding to all the allegations, an EU Commission official said that the use it or lose it airport slot rule in Europe hasn’t caused any inconveniences for airlines during the pandemic. The same claimed that there isn’t any proof that carriers, in this case, Lufthansa, have been operating empty flights.

The official said that the created situation is unnecessary fuss while adding that travel from one country to another has been relatively unrestricted and the net booking is stable.

Moreover, the EU official said that they don’t see a reason why Lufthansa would operate empty flights just to maintain their flights, emphasising that the decision to keep a flight in the air is a commercial decision.

Previously, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that the EU is under pressure to lift travel restrictions since the airlines have been operating numerous empty flights. In addition to the pressure, passengers’ hesitation to travel due to the Omicron variant has suggested that the pre-pandemic level will be harder to be reached.

>> Eurostat: Number of Flights Operated in December Shows Major Recovery Signs – Reaches 76% of Pre-Pandemic Levels

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