The new rules made by the United Kingdom are going to force airlines to run half-empty and uselessly polluting flights to ensure that they are able to retain their take-off and landing slots. From the current threshold of 50%, the Department of Transport has increased the threshold to 70% of using the slots at busy airports from March 27, 2022. If the airlines are not using their slots 70% of the time from the said date, they would have to hand it over.
For ensuring that runways are used efficiently, airlines are allocated slots to operate flights. If they lose these slots, it is a bad thing for their business. Airlines look at these landing rights as one of the most important assets they own which can be traded for tens of millions of pounds.
While in the normal times, the airlines had to maintain an 80% usage of the slots, pandemics changed that significantly. But since there’s no major demand for air travel, airlines will have to operate ghost flights to retain slots. Ghost flights are empty flights operated so that the slots don’t go out of hand.
But this is going to add to the pollution and also waste airline resources at the same time. Airlines have already warned of this and are worried about losing money.