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Brussels Airlines has operated 3,000 flights without passengers this winter to avoid losing take-off and landing slots. From a report: The airline's parent company, Lufthansa Group, confirmed that 18,000 flights had been flown empty, including 3,000 Brussels Airlines services, reports The Bulletin. EU rules require that airlines operate a certain percentage of scheduled flights to keep their slots at major airports. Under these "use it or lose it" regulations, prior to the pandemic carriers had to utilise at least 80 per cent of their scheduled take-off and landing slots. This was revised to 50 per cent as coronavirus saw travel become increasingly difficult -- but airlines are still struggling to hit this target. As a result of Lufthansa Group's latest figures, the Belgian federal government has written to the European Commission, calling for a change to the rules on maintaining slots. It follows the news that European airlines are slashing their winter schedules amid a dampening of demand due to Omicron travel restrictions. Lufthansa Group, which owns the carriers Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Eurowings in addition to Brussels Airlines, has already axed 33,000 flights in January and February.