Empty leg flights are scheduled trips with no passengers or cargo. They often happen when aircraft need to return to the airport of departure, or reposition for their next flight. These flights are usually last-minute additions to an itinerary, so passengers don't have a lot of time to plan trips around them.
And while the offering can be seen as a financially advantageous solution, what is often underestimated is the positive environmental impact that filling them would bring. By giving a real purpose to an otherwise empty flight, operators will save on useless CO2 and can use generated capital on implementing other green projects. The key to the success of this solution is speedy notification.
According to Irakli Litanishvili, founder of Aim of Emperor and Mirai Flights CEO, one quarter of European private jets fly empty, and a single flight like this can produce as much carbon dioxide as driving 2,000 miles. This translates to roughly one million tons of excess CO2 emissions annually. So Mirai Flights has created a simple charter booking system that leverages current tech to reduce the number of wasteful empty flights that occur around the world on a daily basis.
Instead of following a manual booking procedure that could take up to six hours, Mirai Flights offers an automated IT solution that uses destination and price preferences to examine available private jet empty legs in 30 seconds and share the information with a customer immediately. The empty leg availability has a very short life span, so these opportunities are often missed by customers. Mirai Flights notifies the client via app as soon as an empty leg matching client’s destination with operator availability appears.
This instant booking of empty leg flights is a win-win solution for both parties. First, it saves the technical resources of an aircraft. Second, it reduces the carbon footprint of the entire flight, where it would otherwise consume massive resources with no real benefit. The environmental impact is long lasting.
The profit generated by this transaction can be further used for other sustainable projects that not only compensate for the generated CO2, but have a greater environmental impact. For example, there is a real gap between operators delivering sustainable solutions and the client understanding what is going on. The user of the app, or a potential client, has to recognise that flying an empty leg offers not just financial, but also environmental, benefits. That’s where UX design can help. Showing the user how many tonnes of CO2 they help to save with each empty leg flight, or how many trees can be planted based on the sale of the trip, all of these subtle messages reduce the knowledge gap.
Private aviation has always led the charge toward more sustainable flight solutions. Eco-friendly aviation starts with education and grows with choices. The flight industry is a permanent fixture of the global community, but we can fundamentally change how much waste it produces by working together to find innovative solutions.