Lufthansa's 18,000 "unnecessary flights" to hold slots as UK reverts to 70% rule

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Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary recommends Lufthansa should adopt low fares to sell seats on excess flights operated to maintain its slot allocation.

This follows comments in the media from Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr to the effect that his group needs to operate 18,000 unnecessary flights this winter in order to hold onto its slots at slot constrained airports - in spite of an amended EU rule requiring that slots need to be used only 50% of the time, rather than the pre-pandemic requirement of 80%.

Air France-KLM has added its voice to Lufthansa's worries that an increase to 64% for the summer 2022 season may not allow enough flexibility if travel restrictions again constrain demand. Nevertheless, Lufthansa Group plans 85% of summer 2019 flight numbers and Air France-KLM plans 95%, according to OAG schedules.

The most vocal advocates of a return to the 80% threshold are Ryanair and Wizz Air.

They also plan the greatest number of flights as a percentage of 2019 levels this summer: Ryanair at 118% and Wizz Air at 141%.

Meanwhile, the UK, no longer part of the EU, has raised the bar to a 70% requirement, reflecting expectations of a 2Q2022 recovery.

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