Although the Government of Turkey has claimed zero confirmed coronavirus cases, and Nigeria has only confirmed two, Turkish Airways is nonetheless suspending its flight routes to the country.
As precautionary measure, the carrier will be cancelling all its flights to Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt – though it’s unclear whether this move may also be associated with lack of demand.
A statement from the airline indicated the cancellations would start for flights originally scheduled to arrive Lagos on March 17, 23 and 29th, and flights for Abuja scheduled for March 13, 16th, 20th, 25th, 27th and April 1, 2020.
Flights to Port Harcourt would not operate on March 11th, 13th 18th, 25th and 25th.
The statement however did not say when the airline would resume flights again into the country, although it is projected that virus devastation would begin to diminish by end of April.
However, reports indicate that many international carriers are operating a number of ghost flights when they fly back to their operational hub without passengers due to fear of the virus
It was reported that certain airlines are wasting vast quantities of fuel by flying empty aircraft to various destinations in order to maintain rights to their slots.
These flights, nicknamed ‘ghost flights’ are being carried out due to rules around airport slots – something that is especially important at busy airports where a slot at an ideal time of day may be hard to come by.
The Times reported that these ghost flights have been taking place because of European rules, which state that operators can lose their airport slots if they aren’t being used.
The rule is that airlines operating out of the continent need to run 80 per cent of their slot allocations.
According to the policy, if this isn’t done then the airline can risk losing its slots to a competitor.
There were no airlines or airports specified in the reports of ‘ghost flights’.
There are indications that demand for flights has fallen drastically around the world due to government restrictions on travel.
Additionally, demand is low due to personal precautions and worries about the outbreak.