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Current Affairs

Europe’s ‘ghost flights’

Date: 05 March 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous


Airlines in Europe are complaining about ‘ghost flights’ that they are forced to fly in order to maintain their market share.



The pandemic has resulted in decline of number of people using airlines to travel. This has reduced airline traffic.



  • A ghost flight is a plane that flies from one airport to another without any, or with extremely few, passengers travelling in it. 

  • A regulation of 1993 by European Union makes it mandatory to maintain near-empty flights just to retain their take-off and landing slots. 

  • This has been done in order prevent the slots from being handed over to other airlines that can be competitors or new market entrants. 

  • To secure their slots, airlines have to use up to 80 per cent of their slots. During pandemic, this was reduced to 50%.

  • Once the winters end in March, the slots percentage is set to be increased to 64. The main aim is for airline to prove that they still have adequate market share.


Aim of the rules

To ensure that airlines have access to the busiest EU airports on the basis of principles of neutrality, transparency and non-discrimination.



  • The pointless ghost flights have resulted in causing climate damage equivalent to emissions from 1.4 million cars, which is 2.1 million tonnes of CO2

  • A long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries produces in a whole year.


Current numbers

Lufthansa Group has announced that it is running 18,000 such ghost flights, depending on their market share in Europe. 


Way ahead

  • Environmental groups have urged European Union to end the regulation that requires the maintenance of ghost flights.

  • It has suggested banning the short-haul flights where there is an alternative train route within six hours.