More than 5,000 'ghost flights' were operated to and from UK airports since 2019

More than 5,000 completely empty passenger flights have flown to or from UK airports since 2019, the Guardian can reveal.

A further 35,000 commercial flights have operated almost empty since 2019, with fewer than 10% of seats filled, according to analysis of data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This makes a total of about 40,000 “ghost flights”.

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In one quarter, for example, 62 empty planes left Luton airport for Poland, while in another, Heathrow saw 663 almost empty flights going to and from the US. Both quarters were during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said it will work with the CAA to monitor aircraft occupancy to seek greater transparency on the issue of ghost flights.

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