Brussels Airlines has operated 3,000 flights without passengers this winter to avoid losing take-off and landing slots, reports Le Soir.
The Lufthansa group, Brussels Airlines parent company, will cancel 33,000 scheduled flights by the end of March, due to a drop in bookings caused by the omicron variant. These cancellations could have been even more substantial, but to retain take-off and landing rights Lufthansa will maintain 18,000 flights, with no passengers.
Before the pandemic, the rule “use it or lose it” established that airlines should insure at least 80% of their slots, otherwise they risked losing them. That rule was suspended by the European Commission at the height of the epidemic, and reintroduced at the level of 50%, last spring.
✈ Lege vluchten om start- en landingsrechten te behouden?— Gilki (@GeorgesGilkinet) January 5, 2022
Onbegrijpelijk en zinloos vanuit economisch, ecologisch en sociaal oogpunt!
Ik vraag de @EU_Commission 🇪🇺 om de regels ivm slots aan te passen tijdens deze #COVID19 pandemie. https://t.co/03ywABxk6f
Georges Gilkinet, Belgium’s Federal Minister of Mobility, sent a letter to Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport, demanding a prompt clarification. He believes that these rules are incomprehensible from an economic and ecological point of view. Gilkinet calls therefore for an additional reduction in the number of take-off and landing slots that an airline must use to keep them.