COVID-19 Impact: Airlines Running Ghost Flights

COVID-19 Impact: Airlines Running Ghost Flights
Fewer passengers are flying out due to global coronavirus cases , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

They fear losing their take-off and landing slots at airports

OT Staff
March 10 , 2020
01 Min Read

With coronavirus cases being detected in different countries, people are cancelling their travel plans. And governments are executing travel bans as well. While most countries have issued travel advisories for both incoming and outbound passengers, travellers all across the globe are cancelling their travel plans, which is impacting airlines.

They are now running empty ‘ghost’ flights, wasting thousands of gallons of jet fuel, in order to hold on to their take-off and landing spots. The airlines risk losing their coveted airport spots to competitors if they do not keep them active. 


Under the existing European rules, any airlines operating out of the continent, must continue to run 80% of their allocated slots or risk losing them to a competitor. This has led to some operators flying empty planes in and out of European countries at huge costs, according to global media reports. 

At some of the busiest airports across the globe, carriers have to pay large sums to secure these take-off and landing spots. 

This comes with a significant cost both to the airline as well as the environment—about 4 litres of fuel is used per second, or 12 litres jet fuel per km.

Certain players from the aviation industry have already written to Airport Coordination Limited(ACL)—the world’s largest airport slot coordinator working with 46 airports globally—to suspend the rules amidst the global coronavirus outbreak. The rule, currently, has been suspended for flights to and from Hong Kong and mainland China.

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