Did you know that British Airways sometimes operates flights between London Heathrow and Gatwick? Alongside many airlines that operate from multiple hubs, the airline sometimes has to shuffle aircraft between the two airports.
Airlines with more than one hub can be faced with a unique challenge that single hub airlines don’t face. They need to balance their fleet between the two. This is the very reason that Lufthansa sometimes flies the Airbus A380 between Frankfurt and Munich. These flights can be caused by a number of reasons. These range from launching a new route, all the way down to aircraft maintenance. Some of this can be achieved at Heathrow.
What is a ghost flight?
Quite simply, a ghost flight is a flight that is operated without passengers on board. More often than not, such a flight is referred to as a ferry flight. The flights almost always occur due to operations reasons, in order to reposition an aircraft from A to B.
For example, Turkish Airlines flew a Boeing 787 empty from Singapore to Istanbul last week. Additionally, late last year British Airways flew a Boeing 747 just four miles as the crow flies. This odd flight was in order to scrap the aircraft at St Athan.
In the case of British Airways, the airline occasionally needs to fly from London Heathrow to London Gatwick in order to move aircraft between the two. After all, the airline couldn’t use the M25; there’s far too much traffic at rush hour.
Only carried out when necessary
Of course, airlines such as British Airways don’t just carry out such flights unless they need to. As such, the airline will also occasionally fly heavier aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and 777 to Cardiff and St Athan when necessary.
Unfortunately, there is an environmental cost attached to operating empty aircraft. As such, airlines are keen to avoid such flights unless absolutely necessary. They still have to pay for fuel after all, and an empty flight has no paying passengers on board.
In order to offset the effect of such flights, airlines such as British Airways are actively looking at ways that they can reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, British Airways showcased measures it is using to reduce emissions. The airline presented these measures to Prince Charles in Cardiff.
Additionally, alongside its pledge as part of the International Airlines Group to become carbon neutral by 2050, the airline is also taking action regarding its use of single-use plastics. Towards the end of February, the carrier announced an ambition to remove more than 700 tonnes of single-use plastics from its flights around the globe.
Have you ever seen a positioning flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!