For the aviation industry – and many others – the rise of Omicron has fallen like a bucket of cold water. The uncertainty generated by the variant caused millions of people to stay at home again as a preventive measure. This, of course, affected airlines in different parts of the world, who saw how flight sales decreased. The ridiculous thing about this situation, however, is that the planes have not stopped operating despite not being required.
The newspaper The Bulletin, from Belgium, reports that Lufthansa, the German airline, operated 18,000 empty – or nearly empty – flights during the winter. Why? In the European Union, airlines are required to operate at least 50% of their scheduled flights to retain the right to take off and land at airports. Basically, then, they do it to comply with a rule that in current times does not make sense.
In fact, before the pandemic, the rule established that percentage at 80%, but it decreased to reduce the economic effects on airlines. However, current regulations remain disproportionate at a time when the industry has not fully recovered.
In Belgium there is concern
Brussels Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa and one of the main airlines in Belgium, operated 3,000 flights under these conditions in recent months. The alarming situation attracted the eyes of the Minister of Mobility of the aforementioned country, Georges gilkinet.
In a letter addressed to the European Transport Commissioner, Adina Valean, the aforementioned expressed his concern about the issue. Gilkinet pointed out that the established norms are “incompressible”, not only in economic terms, but also in ecological terms. Obviously, planes are consuming fuel when they could be standing still on the ground.
For his part, Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, said: “In almost all other parts of the world, climate-friendly exceptions have been found in times of pandemic. The European Union does not allow this in the same way.”
As long as the matter is resolved favorably, Lufthansa is already contemplating canceling 33,000 flights scheduled for the end of March. At the moment, it is the only way to avoid making empty flights without breaking the regulations.