People around the world are doing their best to reduce travel and practice social distancing to help limit their spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is known to be highly infectious. As we reported earlier this week, satellite photos have shown that pollution has been reduced drastically in some places where there have been major lockdowns.
These lockdowns have also come with an extreme economic cost for some industries, who are fighting to keep revenue and stock prices where they expected it to be for this time of year.
Airlines have suffered huge revenue losses in the past few weeks as travelers are canceling flights and stay home. Estimates from The International Air Transport Association suggest that the outbreak could take $113 billion in sales away from the industry.
According to Business Insider, airlines have not been selling seats for their flights, but have still been flying empty planes anyway, in order to keep their slots filled in accordance with EU guidelines, which require international airlines to use 80% of their flight slots or risk losing them to a competitor.
Aviation demand is reduced due to COVID-19, but airlines are being forced to fly some ‘ghost flights’ to avoid losing their slots – bad news for the environment, airlines & passengers. I've written to the regulator to request urgent reconsideration of 80% slot utilisation rule. pic.twitter.com/OsKEH2S4Ab
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 5, 2020
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote to flight regulators requesting that the “use it or lose it” rules be suspended to stop what is being called “ghost flights.”
“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. Such a scenario is not acceptable. It is not in the industry’s, the passengers’ or the environment’s interest and must be avoided,” Shapps said.
These rules were temporarily relaxed after 9/11 and during the SARS outbreak because there were so few people taking flights. Industry leaders are hoping that the European Union will take similar action, but unfortunately, they have been slow to react this time around.
IMAGE FATURED: By John Vibes / Truth Theory