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Aviation: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 119801, tabled on 7 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the number of empty or almost empty flights that have left the UK by airport in each month since March 2020.

Answered on

10 February 2022

The number of departing international passenger flights operating with no more than 10% of their available seats filled since March 2020 by airport and by month is presented in the attached document. This is based on data collected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on commercial flight operations, and is currently complete until September 2021.

Departing flights may operate with a low number of passengers for a range of reasons. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Government has provided alleviation from the normal slot regulations that require airlines to operate 80% of their slots in order to retain them for the following season. This means that airlines have not been required to operate empty or almost empty flights solely to retain their historic slots rights.

As the pandemic has gone on and aviation demand has increased, the Government wants to encourage recovery. A draft Statutory Instrument setting out arrangements for Summer 2022 was published on 24 January 2022. To reduce the risk of airlines operating environmentally damaging empty or near-empty flights, this legislation includes an enhanced justified non-utilisation provision, meaning that airlines will not be required to operate slots where markets are substantively closed to passenger traffic.

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