No langoliers involved
July 20, 2018 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Six times per week, an empty plane used to fly from London’s Heathrow Airport to Cardiff, Wales. The next day, the plane would make the return trip without a single passenger.
posted by Chrysostom (17 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apparently jet fuel needs be taxed at a much higher rate.
posted by aramaic at 10:21 AM on July 20 [11 favorites]


Or Heathrow could revisit their rules about their slot pairs.

This actually sounds like a reasonable way to train rookie pilots, though, if the airline were inclined to derive some actual value out of the deal.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:23 AM on July 20


Surely there is a way to make this more efficient and at least use the empty plane for freight?
posted by arcticseal at 11:26 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


This actually sounds like a reasonable way to train rookie pilots, though

Only to people who don't live on the flightpath.
posted by howfar at 12:32 PM on July 20 [5 favorites]


And people who don't breathe air.
posted by pracowity at 12:38 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Nice SK reference. Well done.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:18 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


I figured this was a lateral thinking puzzle where every passenger and every member of the crew were married.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:21 PM on July 20 [17 favorites]


British Airways have a big maintenance hanger at Cardiff. Apparently they routinely fly empty planes in and out for scheduled maintenance.

I was also told that some fuel price arbitrage goes on. It costs more at Heathrow, so if your freshly maintained 747 (or slot-saving ghost flight) can come back full of cheaper Welsh fuel, there's some cost savings to offset the flight. Can't imagine that's worth doing by itself, but if the flights need to happen anyway...
posted by Jobst at 1:33 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


One thing that this article fails to mention is that Heathrow and Cardiff are major maintenance hubs for BA. The empty flights could just be a function of moving planes for maintenance or doing test flights to check if everything is ok before putting them back into service.
posted by jmauro at 1:35 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


I am sure i saw somewhere that Cardiff sits on some sort of rift in time and/or space. Could it be something to do with that ?
posted by biffa at 1:41 PM on July 20 [17 favorites]


One thing that this article fails to mention is that Heathrow and Cardiff are major maintenance hubs for BA. The empty flights could just be a function of moving planes for maintenance or doing test flights to check if everything is ok before putting them back into service.

Every single day for weeks and weeks on end, though? With the same type of aircraft each time?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:56 PM on July 20


Every single day for weeks and weeks on end, though? With the same type of aircraft each time?

Same type, but not the same airplane. If it was always same airplane I would ding them for just trying to save the spot, but BA only has like 7 plane types, with most of them being either A320, 747, or 777 variants. I'm not saying all of them are for maintenance, but a plane without passengers going from Cardiff to Heathrow isn't as unusual as the story is trying to make it out to be.
posted by jmauro at 2:05 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


No langoliers involved

So much scampering, though!
posted by panama joe at 3:41 PM on July 20


Taking off and immediately landing doesn't seem any less ridiculous when working with these slot rules.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:01 PM on July 20


I think the slot rules usually requires a route, and to be a route the plane to go somewhere. Doesn’t matter where, just not back to the same airport.
posted by jmauro at 4:16 PM on July 20


Don't forget about ghost trains!
posted by Chrysostom at 6:52 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


The speculation about using the flights for British Airways repairs doesn't really work because the airline involved wasn't British Airways but British Mediterranean Airways, which, as far as I can tell, was co-branded with BA but separately operated and only had 8 planes total, so it's incredibly unlikely that they needed daily maintenance.
posted by Copronymus at 1:49 PM on July 21


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