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Airlines burning money flying ghost flights to keep UK slots

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Airlines burning money flying ghost flights to keep UK slots

Old 10th Mar 2020, 05:40
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Airlines burning money flying ghost flights to keep UK slots

From the BBC

Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it has been forced to operate some near-empty flights after bookings were dented by the coronavirus outbreak.

It is operating the flights to try to retain take-off and landing slots at major airports such as Heathrow.

Under European law, if flights are not operated, slots have to be forfeited.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has written to the European Commission, asking for rules on slot allocation to be relaxed during the outbreak.

Other carriers are thought to be taking similar steps - even reportedly flying so-called "ghost planes" with no passengers on board at all in order to safeguard their presence at major hubs.

'Use it or lose it'

Airline passenger numbers have fallen dramatically in recent weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. On some routes they have halved and carriers have been cancelling services.

However, this could cause them a serious problem, particularly if they fly out of large or heavily congested airports. Under international guidelines, which are enshrined in European law, take-off and landing slots at these airports are limited.

In the UK, the rules apply to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, London Luton and London City.

Slots are granted according to historical rights at these airports. If, for example, a carrier operated a particular schedule through the summer season last year, it retains the right to those same slots this summer.
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 06:08
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This rule should be relaxed immediately. Airlines have enough financial problems without having to run 'ghost flights' and waste valuable cash. Imagine QF having to run a ghost flight non stop to Perth as an example!!!
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 06:36
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There is actually no requirement to operate ghost flights in order to keep the 80/20 slots - it can be done for an almost negligible cost compared to operating the sector.

We should be starting today - watch out for the unusual movements 😎
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 06:48
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Just hire a duchess, take off as BA430, land at Elstree or Biggin, refile as BA728 and head back to LHR. Do that all day. Problem solved.
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 08:55
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Originally Posted by Ollie Onion
Just hire a duchess, take off as BA430, land at Elstree or Biggin, refile as BA728 and head back to LHR. Do that all day. Problem solved.
Could this actually be a really good cost-effective use for new electric aircraft?

Side effect would be a huge improvement in Heathrow's carbon footprint too...
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 09:14
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This is the letter from Rt Hon Grant Shapps...

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Old 10th Mar 2020, 12:44
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Originally Posted by Ollie Onion
Just hire a duchess, take off as BA430, land at Elstree or Biggin, refile as BA728 and head back to LHR. Do that all day. Problem solved.
My thought as well, or even a 172. Seriously, simple temporary suspension of the rule should be immediate.
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 12:46
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Originally Posted by Ollie Onion
Just hire a duchess, take off as BA430, land at Elstree or Biggin, refile as BA728 and head back to LHR. Do that all day. Problem solved.
Needs to be on an AOC and operated under an ACMI agreement to wear the flight number - so Seneca would be smallest I think and if going into LCY needs to be a twin
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 17:20
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Originally Posted by Jetscream 32
There is actually no requirement to operate ghost flights in order to keep the 80/20 slots - it can be done for an almost negligible cost compared to operating the sector
Can you expand on that ?
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Old 10th Mar 2020, 20:23
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Why doesn't the UK just take unilateral action and say that the rule is suspended?

After all you have left the EU
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 01:11
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It's all sorted.

https://www.theguardian.com/business...s-empty-planes
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 08:11
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Originally Posted by Jetscream 32
Needs to be on an AOC and operated under an ACMI agreement to wear the flight number - so Seneca would be smallest I think and if going into LCY needs to be a twin
I believe this was actually done some years ago, and then ruled invalid by the regulator. Do I recall it was Virgin that did it ?

Pretty poor show by the regulator who, from the minister's letter, had already been harangued about the situation by Dept of Transport officials, and then had to have a severe letter sent to them and then released to the press before they do anything about it - a decision which takes 5 minutes to agree.

Last edited by WHBM; 11th Mar 2020 at 08:24.
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 08:20
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Originally Posted by WHBM
Pretty poor show by the regulator who, from the minister's letter, had already been harangued about the situation by Dept of Transport officials, and then had to have a severe letter sent to them and then released to the press before they did anything about it - a decision which takes 5 minutes to agree.
The regulator - if you are referring to ACL to which the minister's letter was addressed - seemingly could not make such decisions unilaterally as it was bound by EU law.

https://www.acl-uk.org/wp-content/up...n-paper-VF.pdf
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Old 11th Mar 2020, 15:40
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Although this is a different situation due to the virus problem, slot protection has always been common practise. While waiting for traffic rights for a long haul flight, a short haul flight was operated instead, and swopped to the new long haul service as rights were granted. There was never a need to operate empty flights. If the restrictions are lifted, it will only be for a limited period, than the old rules are back in force.
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Old 12th Mar 2020, 16:37
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Originally Posted by Jetscream 32
There is actually no requirement to operate ghost flights in order to keep the 80/20 slots - it can be done for an almost negligible cost compared to operating the sector.

We should be starting today - watch out for the unusual movements 😎
Come on then, enlighten us with your wisdom??
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