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‘Ghost flights’ forced into European skies by coronavirus outbreak

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Under-pressure airlines have been forced to fly “ghost flights” into European airports as coronavirus continues to cause major financial problems for the aviation industry.

Under-pressure airlines have been forced to fly "ghost flights" into European airports as coronavirus continues to cause major financial problems for the aviation industry.

The near-empty planes – termed "ghost flights" – are essential to keeping hold of prized take-off and landing spots at major airports, the airlines claim.

Airlines around the world have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting sudden and significant drop in travel demand.

An almost empty British Airways passenger plane flies from Milan to London on March 5, 2020

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has urged the European Commission to relax the rules on slot allocation during the outbreak.

He called the ghost flights, which produce a diabolical carbon footprint per passenger, "bad news for the environment, airlines and passengers".

Under European Commission guidelines, airlines must adhere to what is known as the 80/20 rule.

The guidelines stipulate that if an airline does not maintain at least 80 per cent of its allocated airport take-off and landing slots then a competitor can potentially seize them.

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In his letter to the European Commission, Mr Chapps wrote "such a scenario is not acceptable" in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I am particularly concerned that, in order to satisfy the 80/20 rule, airlines may be forced to fly aircraft at very low load factors, or even empty, in order to retain their slots".

Today Qantas announced it was drastically cutting back international flights by almost a quarter for the next six months.

IN PICTURES: Coronavirus ghost towns

Rather than exiting routes altogether, Qantas will use smaller aircraft and reduce the frequency of flights.

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As a result, Qantas will ground eight of its A380s from the carrier's total of 12.

Qantas shares were trading at a yearly low on the ASX today.

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The aviation industry could take a A$170 billion hit if the coronavirus continues to spread, according to the International Air Transportation Association.

Many countries have imposed travel bans to try and contain the outbreak, while would-be travellers are wary of journeying by plane to countries and continents hit hard by COVID-19.

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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/empty-ghost-flights-across-europe-as-coronavirus-turbulence-continues/8b113a3c-5465-4d48-82e2-cb20b1308a53

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