Airlines Are Letting Greed (And Coronovirus Panic) Kill Off The Spirit Of Aviation
With the official infection count now in the hundred thousand, some people are getting a smidge batshit-crazy paranoid about the coronavirus. Many try to soothe their worries by pouring their Corona beers into the sink, pouring Tito's Vodka onto their hands and dooming the immuno-deficient community by hoarding hand-sanitizer like hypochondriac hydras. But soon, we won't even be able to look out of a window without being reminded of the looming specter of this modern plague, as the skies will fill with the fell swooping of the dreaded ghost planes.
The aviation industry isn't feeling so hot right now. Large festivals and entire countries are being canceled every minute, wreaking havoc to their most popular travel destinations. Not that they were getting many passengers anyway. With governments warning people to avoid intimate contact with strangers, nothing sounds less appealing than sitting in the middle seat of a budget incubation tube while touching elbows and inhaling the poorly recycled breath of a bunch of randos on their way to Reno. The virus is wreaking so much havoc on air travel the aviation industry is projected to lose 113 billion dollars in lost sales -- or one first-class ticket between LAX and La Guardia.
As a result, airlines are constantly canceling or downsizing their routes as it's not worth it to spend a few mills sending a miracle of the modern age soaring through the skies to get four dudes in mouth masks to Duluth, Minnesota. But not European flights, who instead of grounding their planes are incentivized to keep sending them through the sky completely empty like airborne ghost towns. The reason for this is the European Union's "use it or lose it" rule for airlines. Since Europe is a tiny pixie continent with tiny pixie countries, most international airports have a piddling amount of runways, making runway time so valuable that airlines buy these off each other for tens of millions of dollars.
In order to keep things competitive and to make sure no jerk just double parks their plane to hamstring the competition, airlines are required to actually burn rubber during these slots more than 80% of the time or risk losing forever -- even when nobody's flying your red eyes because they all have red eyes. But there's one major loophole airlines have learned to loop-de-loop their planes through: nowhere does it say that any living souls have to be on these planes. And since it's marginally cheaper to shoot off an empty plane than to deal with a handful of coughing passengers and their baggage, airlines are now opting to send off ghost flights, letting their greed kill the spirit of aviation.
Petitions to pause the rule and banish these ghost flights have already begun, since these empty planes pointlessly bad for the environment, they're also burning millions of gallons of jet fuel for no apparent reason. Hopefully, the EU will see sense in time and banish these ghost planes from the heavens to instead haunt our empty airports.
For more weird tangents and terrifying transportation-themed tales, do follow Cedric on Twitter.