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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11, @07:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the use-it-or-lose-it dept.

Report: Lufthansa Group Confirmed That 18,000 Flights Had Been Flown Empty To Keep Airport Slots - Airlive:

[...] Under these "use it or lose it" regulations, prior to the pandemic carriers had to utilise at least 80pc of their scheduled take-off and landing slots.

This was revised to 50pc as coronavirus saw travel become increasingly difficult – but airlines are still struggling to hit this target.

As a result of Lufthansa Group's latest figures, the Belgian federal government has written to the European Commission, calling for a change to the rules on maintaining slots.


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  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @08:08PM (23 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @08:08PM (#1211883) Journal

    Somebody is making a profit, no need to change anything, if those airplanes don't fly, fuel isn't being bought, taxes and fees aren't being paid. Please, consider the bureaucrats and the ones they serve

    --
    Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 11, @08:11PM (17 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 11, @08:11PM (#1211887)

    Flight crews and maintenance workers laid off, not to mention the supply chain that produces a reliable steady stream of aircraft maintenance items suddenly backing up with oversupply.

    Sometimes it is cheaper, overall, to do something stupid looking like keeping the trains running even when they are empty.

    --
    Україна не входить до складу Росії.
    • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @08:32PM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @08:32PM (#1211907) Journal

      We have to run them empty to maintain the appearance of "shortage" and keep prices up.

      *What the market will bear...*

      --
      Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tekk on Tuesday January 11, @09:00PM (15 children)

      by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @09:00PM (#1211917)

      How is it cheaper to run ghost flights than to just pay them to stay home?

      • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday January 11, @11:12PM (1 child)

        by legont (4179) on Tuesday January 11, @11:12PM (#1211960)

        If it just comes down to money, hedge funds could "invest" by buying slots outright for the foreseeable future. Requiring actual flight operations greatly reduces feasibility of such an attack.

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @03:19AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @03:19AM (#1212014) Journal

          If it just comes down to money, hedge funds could "invest" by buying slots outright for the foreseeable future.

          There's an unpopular word for that, "scalpers".

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by deimtee on Wednesday January 12, @01:03AM (9 children)

        by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 12, @01:03AM (#1211982) Journal

        It's not a matter of cheaper. They have some sort of religious fear of paying people without making them work for it.
        Fuck the environment, they'd rather double their costs wasting fuel and materials than even consider something that looks remotely like a UBI.

        --
        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
        • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @03:30AM (5 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @03:30AM (#1212016) Journal
          I have a couple of reasonable concerns:

          1) that shit won't get done if we throw everyone on UBI.

          2) that we create a destructive dynamic where people loot the future by voting for ever higher UBI.
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Wednesday January 12, @06:14AM (4 children)

            by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 12, @06:14AM (#1212040) Journal

            1) that shit won't get done if we throw everyone on UBI.

            What shit? The point of this story is that shit that didn't need to be done was being done, and simply wasting resources.

            2) that we create a destructive dynamic where people loot the future by voting for ever higher UBI.

            You can't loot the future, it's not here yet. Much more likely you'd end up trying to loot the ruling class. Since they are the ones in charge, and have long had experience in protecting their wealth, I don't see the problem.

            --
            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
            • (Score: 0, Redundant) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @06:25AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @06:25AM (#1212043) Journal

              The point of this story is that shit that didn't need to be done was being done, and simply wasting resources.

              Not by Lufthansa. They employed people to protect valuable assets - access to those gates.

              You can't loot the future, it's not here yet.

              We're already doing it. Most public pensions are classic examples. So are the large debts that most countries have.

              Much more likely you'd end up trying to loot the ruling class.

              What does the ruling class own? And how are you going to "loot" that in a way that doesn't partially or fully destroy the value of that asset?

            • (Score: 0, Redundant) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @03:43PM (2 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @03:43PM (#1212133) Journal
              To elaborate on my previous post, we don't actually have an example of waste in this story. As I mentioned already, Lufthansa is securing assets for the future. From the point of view of the airport operator, this is a demonstration of fitness - showing that Lufthansa is interested in maintaining those airport slots. It's only the CO2 emissions are really considered waste, and well, there's just not that much of it.

              My take is that this can be resolved to most peoples' satisfaction by increasing the rent significantly for airport slots that aren't in use (thus demonstrating that fitness without the waste of CO2 emissions) with a reverting to the traditional model once things settle down.
              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @03:19AM (1 child)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @03:19AM (#1212306)

                > the CO2 emissions are really considered waste, and well, there's just not that much of it.

                And the fuel to make those emissions which is still coming from non renewable sources. Also the hours wear and tear on the jet engines, which uses significant resources to maintain.

                > this is a demonstration of fitness

                Like "flexing" by purchasing an NFT?

                --
                Україна не входить до складу Росії.
                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @03:22AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @03:22AM (#1212308) Journal

                  And the fuel to make those emissions which is still coming from non renewable sources. Also the hours wear and tear on the jet engines, which uses significant resources to maintain.

                  Yep, not much.

                  Like "flexing" by purchasing an NFT?

                  Nope.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @11:48AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @11:48AM (#1212073)

          As stated in the headline (do people even read those anymore?) these flights were required to keep their airport landing slots. Those slots are strictly 'use it or lose it' and losing your slot means that you can't land at that airport anymore. I shouldn't need to say why losing access to a major hub is a Bad Thing™.

          • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Wednesday January 12, @03:12PM (1 child)

            by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 12, @03:12PM (#1212117) Journal

            That is not some unbreakable natural law of the universe. Its an administrative rule that could be easily adjusted. Certainly be a lot cheaper and more environmentally friendly to modify a rule than to make 18000 unnecessary flights.

            --
            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:58PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:58PM (#1212139)

              Wouldn't it be better to make 18000 unnecessary rules to ensure the right people get paid?

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @10:10AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @10:10AM (#1212059)

        1. Pilots have to get their hours to keep flying. Whether the airline is paying for simulator time or air time, they are paying for it. If pilots lapse, it requires even more pilot time to get them back where they can legally fly.

        2. If you lose your airport slot and then need to fly those flights again in the future, you are either buying/leasing the slot from your competitors or hoping that someone else loses their slot and it gets reallocated to you at the start of an upcoming season because you are no longer at the back of the line.

        3. Airlines often purchase things using contracts/futures. It can be cheaper to just buy the minimum and fly rather than trying to resell or renegotiate after breaking the contract.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @12:02PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @12:02PM (#1212075)

          1. Microsoft Flight Simulator is certified for simulator time. Every professional pilot has a copy and a dedicated simulator PC at home. They only use company simulators for type certification these days since that still requires a full cockpit. Flying hours during the pandemic have largely been kept by renting GA aircraft at the pilot's expense.
          2. This is the reason. Full stop.
          3. It is cheaper to resell, store, or throw out surplus supplies than fly.

          The majority of commercial aircraft have been grounded for two years due to the pandemic.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @11:42PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @11:42PM (#1212246)

            Microsoft Flight Simulator is not certified for simulator time. But even if the software was approved, you have to have approved hardware to go with it. And not all of their proficiency and training can be done in a simulator either.

            It isn't always cheaper to resell, store, or discard. You have to find legal space to store your supplies that you can't sell. The stuff you can sell is going to be at a loss. And once you break those contracts, you have to renegotiate them in the future which can cost you a lot in the long term.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by shrewdsheep on Tuesday January 11, @09:08PM (4 children)

    by shrewdsheep (5215) on Tuesday January 11, @09:08PM (#1211919)

    Ever heard of the broken window fallacy?

    • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @10:07PM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @10:07PM (#1211944) Journal

      Yes, doesn't matter, does it? People have to get paid, this is how they want to do it. Cynicism is built into the system

      --
      Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @02:51AM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @02:51AM (#1212006)

      If there's a steady stream of broken windows, and a billion dollar annual supply chain industry feeding the window repairs, then: magically windows stop breaking for a year, but are most likely going to resume breaking at some point in the future, do you disband the entire industry, retire and retrain the workers, sell the factories, scrap the machinery that can't be repurposed, then spend ten billion dollars over five years rebuilding it all to start supplying replacement windows again when they are needed?

      NASA has this problem with their rocket scientists - the funding tends to be boom and bust, but if you shut the program the workers will move on with their lives and it might take 20 years to rebuild a similar program once the existing one is shutdown.

      Yeah, the planes could be parked, the fuel (and CO2 emissions) could be saved, the factories could be idled and just continue paying salaries to the workers all the way from the hub mechanics to the titanium miners, and that would be better for everyone everywhere - but our management layers aren't that flexible, or smart.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @04:06PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @04:06PM (#1212143)

        NASA has this problem with their rocket scientists - the funding tends to be boom and bust, but if you shut the program the workers will move on with their lives and it might take 20 years to rebuild a similar program once the existing one is shutdown.

        This has already been solved in the scientific community. Keep a steady flow of single-use grad students coming through and, when the funding arrives, give a few of them a promotion to $50k/yr on a 2 yr contract + responsibility to deliver the dream. It means only retaining a few permanent managers, sorry professors, to check emails and read the news.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @03:11AM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @03:11AM (#1212302)

          Do post docs get $50k these days?

          I had 12 years experience with a MS, making $100k in 2003 when my company tanked in the 9-11 aftershocks. Asked about doing the work a rotating parade of post-docs had been doing for a colleague. These guys with PhD+5 and up were lucky to get $35k/yr back then. I was shocked, but I guess I made the right choice turning down the PhD TA offer.

          --
          Україна не входить до складу Росії.