EU bureaucratic farce as planes forced to fly over Europe without passengers – ‘Useless | World | News

Directives that cause massive damage to the environment have been widely criticized by environmentalists, with many calling for the EU modify the new rules. The rules, which normally require airlines to use at least 80% of their allocated slots at airports, were lifted in early 2020 as the coronavirus hit the continent.

But since then the bloc has started to reintegrate them, and last month the European Commission set the threshold at 50% for the winter travel season.

The Lufthansa group, which includes Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Swiss, had to make 18,000 unnecessary flights from mid-December to mid-March to comply with Brussels guidelines, the company said.

The airline group said it plans to cancel 33,000 scheduled flights by the end of March due to a drop in demand due to the wave of omicron infections across the continent.

Boris Ogurksy, a spokesperson for Lufthansa, said: “Other parts of the world are taking a more pragmatic approach here, for example [in the US] by temporarily suspending the slot rules due to the current pandemic situation.

“It benefits the climate and the airlines.”

Carsten Spohr, CEO of the airline group, previously described many of the 18,000 trips as “empty and unnecessary” flights.

George Gilkinet, Belgian Minister for Mobility, called on Brussels to put an end to this “environmental, economic and social absurdity” after it emerged that his country’s national airline was forced to carry out so many empty flights .

Teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg tweeted sarcastically: “The EU is surely in climate emergency mode.”

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A spokesperson for the Belgian Ministry of Transport told the Telegraph: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have relaxed the rule for using slots to mitigate financial damage to the sector and prevent environmentally harmful ghost flights. .

“Our objective is to support the recovery of the sector and we will soon announce our approach for the summer of 2022.”

Mary I. Bruner