Carbon footprint of the UK ghost flights during Covid

What are ghost flights?

Flying empty planes is a complete waste

These are flights that are totally empty. These flights took place because airports demanded that a certain percentage of take-off slots were filled in order for each company to retain ownership.

Why is this problematic?

The Average plane emits about 53 pounds of carbon per mile, and flies on average 500 miles. As a result, the average flight emits roughly 25000 pounds of carbon per flight. Roughly speaking, an empty plane uses 20% less fuel, so we can say that each ghost flight emitted roughly 10 tonnes of carbon. Over the 15,000 flights that flew empty, that is 150,000 tonnes of carbon – with no purpose except allowing airports to keep raking in the profits.

At a time when we are all trying to cut carbon emissions this is horrendous. Is it a large portion of our countries annual emissions? no, it is less than 1%. However, at a time when everyone is being encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible this is an absurd waste.

Alarmingly, ghost flights are not only a British thing in many countries around the world they have been a far bigger thing. What is worse, is that this was belatedly recognized by the EU reducing requirements temporarily in the middle of the epidemic.

Things must change – if in the future we have an epidemic which reduces passengers flying to zero, we must also have a reduction in the emissions and flights to zero as well.

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