Airports and airlines call for an extension to slot rule waiver

Airline and airport groups have teamed up to call on the European Commission to extend the slot waiver system over the winter season. ACI EUROPE, Airlines for Europe, Airlines International Representation in Europe, IATA and the European Association of Slot Coordinators have agreed to abide by a set of conditions under which an extension of the waiver of the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule could be applied for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. The groups argued that continued uncertainty about a second wave of the pandemic and haphazard travel restrictions have caused passenger demand to plummet, leading to a slower recovery in European air transport and making the need for an extended slots waiver more urgent than ever.

"It is now critical that the European Commission formalises an extension of the slots waiver and clarifies how the conditions will be implemented," they said "Industry and slot coordinators require a clear signal from the Commission as to the rules of the game for the coming winter season." The 80/20 rule, or 'use it, or lose it', was relaxed for the summer season so airlines would not lose their airport slot rights if they are unable to operate 80% of their services according to schedule. Initially, ACI and IATA had been at loggerheads over the extension.

Cargo carriers are disadvantaged by the 80/20 rule as the ad hoc nature of the sector makes it hard for them to run operations to a specific schedule.

This has resulted in them facing issue when trying to obtain slots at congested airports.

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