Ryanair has taken just a few days to respond harshly to Lufthansa’s request to the European Commission to relax the rules to prevent the realization of ghost flights, trips that go half empty just to be able to keep the slots (take-off and landing rights) at the main airports. The Irish airline has indicated that what its German competitor should do is lower prices to increase the occupancy of its aircraft, instead of reporting “false ghost flights”.
In addition, the low-cost company recalls that the former German flag company and its subsidiaries Belgium, Austria and Switzerland (Brussels Airlines, Swiss and Austrian) have received 12,000 million euros in state aid they have received during the last two years of the crisis. by covid-19. “The strategy to avoid empty flights is simple, Lufthansa should sell the seats of these flights at cheaper prices, and reward EU consumers, many of whom have financed the 12,000 million euros of state aid” ·, he said this Wednesday in a statement.
Ryanair also debunks Lufthansa’s argument that it regrets operating those ghost flights for environmental reasons. “It is not the concern for the environment, but its intention to continue maintaining its slot program, which it wastes, while avoiding competition and limiting the offer for the consumer,” says the airline.
Lufthansa said in an interview last week that the European Commission should relax the rules, warning that it will have to cancel 33,000 flights between January and March, but that it will be forced to operate 18,000 “unnecessary” flights, with planes with very low occupancy that emit the same greenhouse gases as those that are full so as not to lose the slots.
“The solution to the problem of ghost flights Lufthansa is simple: it’s all about selling these seats to consumers. If Lufthansa really needs to operate these flights (solely to avoid the release of slots competitors), then they should be required to sell these seats to the public at lower prices. German and European citizens have already bailed out Lufthansa and its subsidiaries with millions in state aid. Therefore, the airline would have to put the seats of these flights up for sale at cheap prices to reward the German and European taxpayers who have subsidized it with billions of euros during the COVID crisis, instead of operating empty flights to block the slots ”, insisted Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair.
The Irish company denounces that, with the environmental excuse, the only thing that Lufthansa wants is to protect its slots, to block competition and limit the possibilities of choice in the large central airports such as Frankfurt, Brussels Zaventem and Vienna, among others. “If Lufthansa does not want to operate ‘ghost flights’ to protect its slots, then it should simply offer these seats at lower prices, and help accelerate the recovery of short and long-haul flights to and from Europe,” says Ryanair. .
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The Irish, European leader of the “ghostbusters”
The Irish company takes the opportunity to once again request the European Commission to oblige Lufthansa and other airlines subsidized by the State to release the slots they don’t want to use so low-fare “ghostbusters” like Ryanair and others can offer cheaper options and fares at these central airports. Ryanair has stood out for reporting to the European Commission the “illegal aid” that companies such as Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, TAP, Air Europa or Alitalia have received.
Ryanair is by far the first European airline by number of passengers. In Spain, it revalidated its leadership in 2021 by transporting 19.4 million travelers, 69.6% more than the previous year (although 55.6% less than in 2019), and widening its gap to 5.7 million of customers about Vueling and the Iberia group, its most immediate pursuers.
Although its planes are already close to reaching 90% occupancy, Ryanair announced at the end of last year that it was doubling its loss forecast for its fiscal year 2021-22 (ends March 30) to a range of between 250 and 450 million euros, when it was previously between 100 and 200 million. The reason for this change is due to the incidence of the Omicron variant, which has led the company to reduce its flight estimate for January by 33% due to restrictions imposed in France, Germany and Morocco.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.