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Ghost flights

Old 13th Nov 2007, 11:03
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Ghost flights

ITN news last night reported that BA are flying empty aircraft around the world (my wife did wonder how an empty aircraft could fly, "surely there must be someone onboard to fly it"). But I did not really understand what they were telling me. ITN reported flight BA... (cannot remember the number) flew empty to Los Angeles. If it had a BA flight number, was it a scheduled flight, if so how was it empty, did they not sell any tickets?
Or was it an unscheduled flight to reposition an aircraft? ITN suggested it was because no cabin crew were available for the flight, but an aircraft was.
So many questions, and typical of news reporting, it seemed to me it was a story about 'green' issues without much regard to what is actually happening.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 11:13
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Cool

And here's me thinking you were on about filing multiple flight plans to avoid ATC slot restrictions ????
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 11:40
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"Ghost" BA flights

Just a guess (I am not employed by BA and have no knowledge of their operations) - when preparing their C/C roster, BA discovered that they were a few bods short. So they offload all the pax for half a dozen flights onto alternatives, and operate the affected flights with cargo only. So all pax get to where they want to go, the aircraft are still operated with a payload (NOT empty as ITV News would have us believe), and British journalism reaches a new low.....
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 11:54
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British Airways is shuttling dozens of empty planes across the Atlantic because it has a shortage of cabin crew, it has emerged.

The "phantom" services have been flying between Britain and Canada and the US over the past two weeks in order to retain valuable slots at London's airports.

Several BA passenger flights took off without a single passenger, using up thousands of tonnes of jet fuel.

The news emerged as the airline passed on the soaring cost of oil to customers by increasing its fuel surcharge on all flights.

Environmentalists accused the airline of "hypocrisy", saying the strategy underlined the aviation sector's indifference to the fight against global warming...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ma.../et-ba-113.xml
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 11:57
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Positioning aircraft?? If an a/c went tech in say Manchester, and they had a spare, and standby crew in standstead, they will fly it empty known as positioning the aircraft, to fly that rotation from MAN.

Or if the a/c sold no tickets, but the return leg is full, then they will fly that a/c empty to fly the return leg, which has the profits.

If no cabin crew is avail, but there is one for the return leg, they will fly it empty to fly the return.

Most times is positioning a/c to fly return flights, some airport have strict closing times, if the a/c didn't make it in before the closing time, then early morning rotations may be unable to operate, so they will fly an empty a/c in.

Makes full sense. This is an example, happens everywhere, as stated.

And to keep slots active, I believe if an operator doesn’t use their runway slots for x amount of time, they will lose them slots, worth £thooousandssss.

To keep the slots, but meaning they fly empty, is more operationally beneficial.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 11:57
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Ive been saying for years, the only sure way to improve the punctuality figures is to stop carrying passengers. On time everytime.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 12:05
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BAW661
BAW661A
BAW661B
BAW661C

So true.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 12:14
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As far as I can remember (maybe one of the long haulers can confirm it), it is a case of "use it or lose it" when it comes to slots at airports and routes.

If the LHR to JFK route is not used by an airline, it can be given to another carrier - therefore, even if there's no pax, the route still needs to be flown.

....I think.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 12:24
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Slots and routes are only linked when there's a PSO or similar, as a general rule.

The "use it or lose it" policy does not mean that every flight has to operate as per the schedule. The airline has to show that the slot is required for a scheduled service, and is not being held in case of future need or sale.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 12:32
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'Tis very true! Although they are not empty as such as they carry freight.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 12:36
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Seems perfectly reasonable to me, albeit I'm not a left wing pinko, for the flights to take place with cargo but without passengers because of a lack of cabin crew.
Hundreds of flights a day operate with cargo but without passengers because that is their line of business.... BA would be silly bumping the cargo onto another flight (more likely flights plural) because these other flights would pobably already have their, if not full then nearly full, quota of cargo.

So if the journalists really feel a need to report on this, surely the real (non) 'story' should have been 'BA unable to man all scheduled flights due to lack of manpower/poor planning/staff cutbacks/illness' (delete or insert another reason as applicable) or 'BA fulfill their commitment to transport cargo to the States despite lack of CC'.

However we have ended up with another easy to write, unresearched story jumping on the popular bandwagon of 'lets decry aviation as the major planet killing mode of transport'
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 14:15
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I see that the Telegraph article says that the 747's carry between 500 and 600 passengers? Are they talking about Japanese domestic 747's?!?!?

They also state that BMI operates as a BA Franchise, think they meant BMED! Nice journalism again I see.

The flights are empty one way but what it fails to mention is they pick up passengers at the other end. Not only does it protect the slot but it means that 300 pax on the aircrafts return leg are not disrupted.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 14:59
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I heard that Simon Coulder bloke on 5Live, he seems like a complete idiot, far from a travel expert.

He was ranting on how BA were disgraceful and they should have cancelled the flights because:

.Its November and the flights are empty
.If a plane goes tech they cancel the flight (because it can't fly?)
.No other airline operates ghost flights


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Old 13th Nov 2007, 15:16
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ITN news last night reported that BA are flying empty aircraft....
I can understand that, because they still have a return flight to operate and combining with a later return flight may exceed the capacity (for example)

But
.....around the world
is just silly.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 15:23
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ghost flights

it's been happening for several years at Ba...it is down to c/crew shortages and whilst it does protect the slots, it also gets the c/c in their correct position, as Ba c/c operate numerous 'back-to-back' rotations.ie 4 t/a sectors. If the crews 2nd sector is canx due lack of crew, they then are delayed a day making a 4 day slip and therefore knocking them off the 2nd part of the BTB, hence compounding the crew shortage, so they operate the a/c with nil pax and cargo only to get the c/c in the correct position to operate the next sector.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 15:28
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it's been happening for several years at Ba...it is down to c/crew shortages and whilst it does protect the slots, it also gets the c/c in their correct position, as Ba c/c operate numerous 'back-to-back' rotations.ie 4 t/a sectors. If the crews 2nd sector is canx due lack of crew, they then are delayed a day making a 4 day slip and therefore knocking them off the 2nd part of the BTB, hence compounding the crew shortage, so they operate the a/c with nil pax and cargo only to get the c/c in the correct position to operate the next sector.
I can't believe what I'm reading. Who's in charge of this debacle? The cost of this is completely avoidable, with proper planning of course.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 15:36
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Some flights on longhaul are operating with no passengers or cabin crew. This is due to unavailability of cabin crew due to a miscalculation of part time contracts. It seems ridiculous but too many of them were given part time in one go, or too many were offered the same week off, and the company have found themselves short on some days.

The flights still operate with the max payload of cargo, up to 25 tonnes on a 747, and are making sure the return flight is in the right place to keep the schedule going. Yes it is unfortunate, and someone's head should roll in cabin crew scheduling, but it's better than cancelling both legs.

BMED flew an aircraft empty every day to cardiff last season just to keep open a slot, no-one kicked up such a fuss. It's the typical British tall poppy sydrome, have a go at the big boy, who by the way is still on course for a year end profit of close to £1 Billion

If you were wanting to get back from your holidays you might be glad BA still bothered to operate a service at a loss, just to have the plane ready to take you home. I call that customer service, can you imagine Ryanair bothering?

Yes it may be a waste of fuel, but that is a debate for the airline industry as a whole. Why should Roman or a rich Saudi Prince be allowed to pollute the atmosphere with an A380 just for their benefit. Greenpeace and ITN, go and knock on their door and see what response you get....
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 17:58
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I bet it goes down well with the passengers... "Sorry sir, the flights not actually cancelled you just can't go on it"...."No it's not overbooked"..

Sounds like a good time to bring in tax per flight rather than tax per passenger.
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Old 13th Nov 2007, 18:21
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This isn't a slots issue - it is a staffing issue. In order to obtain grandfather rights to a particular slot, you need to operate at least 80% of the slots held on a given day. For example, if you have a 15:00 slot on a Monday for a 20 week operating season, you need to operate 80% of the 20 weeks to get the grandfather rights. You can therefore cancel up to four flights over the course of that season before you lose your slot for the next year.

My understanding is that manpower levels have been cocked up and so they cannot crew certain long-haul trips. What has been happening is, for example, that today's BA093 LHR-YYZ has been cancelled (as far as passengers are concerned) but actually flew empty with flight crew and cargo aboard. Today's BA092 YYZ-LHR return flight operates just fine; and tomorrow's BA092 YYZ-LHR (which the same crew was due to operate back) is cancelled. And so on. Not great, but you've only buggered up two lots of passengers instead of four. Fundamentally bad news for the environment though, and this type of thing really doesn't help the entire aviation industry in general when plastered all over the evening news.
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Old 14th Nov 2007, 10:30
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Although they are not empty as such as they carry freight.
Just out of interest: is it much easier to properly plan ahead on freight than on cabin crew, because no humans involved with rights and contracts and such? In other words, how probable is it that BA doesn't have enough cargo to replace the pax in time and the flights go over the atlantic nearer to empty than we all would expect / wish / know of?
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