At the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unknown rule in the air transport sector made a big splash for its economic and ecological absurdity. «Use it or lose it», use them or lose them: airlines, all over the world, were forced to fly planes without passengers so as not to lose the routes that had been assigned to them.
The express emergence of the Omicron variant and the sharp drop in the number of passengers have put this thorny issue of phantom flights back on the table, particularly in Europe. Once again, in order not to be deprived of the connections that make their wealth, airlines, especially European ones, were forced to make empty aircraft circle pollutants in the skies.
Enough to raise Carsten Spohr, the boss of Lufthansa who, at the twilight of 2021, lamented in An interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper have to operate “18,000 additional unnecessary flights this winter” because of this legislative framework which is, to say the least, unsuitable.
Since the German’s interview, the controversy over this so-called “80/20” rule (a company loses its precious “slot” if it does not operate at least 80% of its potential flights) logically swells, attracting harsh comments from the political world or from the great figures of the climate struggle like Greta Thunberg.
”Brussels Airlines makes 3,000 unnecessary flights to maintain airport slots”
The EU surely is in a climate emergency mode…https://t.co/eHLFrd06y0
– Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 5, 2022
Carsten Spohr has also been joined by other airlines which, aware of the catastrophic environmental image they already give in normal times, are seeking to change the regulations to avoid aggravating their cases -but also, and perhaps- to be above all, to protect their livelihood.
The controversy made – in part – the European Union bend, which decided this time again, but on a temporary basis, to relax the “80/20 rule” for some time yet, without quite putting it aside.
But who says controversy says Michael O’Leary: it seemed impossible that the unspeakable and scandalous Irish boss of the low-cost airline Ryanair, does not intervene with the usual grace and delicacy of his boxer punchlines in the debate.
According to the very liberal boss, the communication campaign initiated by Lufthansa is only window dressing, intended to protect only its economic interests.
“Lufthansa loves crying crocodile tears about the environment when it does everything it can to protect its connections”, he explained in a communication. A strategy that “blocks competition and limits choice at major airports”, also complained the rather brutal Irishman.
According to him, the German company, if it does not want to see its flights empty, must simply sell its tickets cheaper, therefore follow the low-cost model – and the social consequences that it entails – of which he is one. loudest heralds.
A clash which, as Bloomberg explains, follows other confrontations between O’Leary and the German company, the latter having already publicly criticized the model of low-cost tickets, which would create an artificial demand for neo-passengers for polluting and dispensable flights.