On behalf of its airport members, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has welcomed the European Commission’s proposal to return to normal airport slot usage rules for the upcoming Winter 22/23 season. The trade association is now calling on the EU Council and the European Parliament to support this proposal and expedite its approval.
The reinstated rules mean airlines will be required to use airport slots they have been allocated for 80% of the time in order to keep them during the following corresponding season. According to ACI Europe this will put an end to successive usage alleviation measures that have been in place since Spring 2020.
“Airports understood and accepted the need for slot waivers for airlines during the pandemic,” said Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe’s DG. “However, there is no question these waivers also came with forgone connectivity and forgone revenues for airports.”
The return to the 80:20 slot usage rule reflects the need to shift from protecting the airport slot portfolios of incumbent airlines to promoting an effective use of airport capacity and the restoration of Europe’s vital air connectivity – now that COVID-19 travel restrictions have been largely eased or even abolished both within Europe and in most other world regions.
Returning to the normal slot is consistent with the dynamic air traffic recovery underway and says Jankovec, “will give airlines the flexibility and protection they need when faced with travel restriction or the impact of the war on specific markets is the right thing to do now that air traffic is finally recovering.”
While the rest of Europe looks to return to normal airport slot usage rules, earlier this month the UK Government offered airlines a “slot amnesty” allowing them to voluntarily return slots for the Summer 2022 season without prejudicing their future allotments. Airlines were given until Friday 8 July to return their slots, a move which allows them to more realistically align their schedules without the fear of losing their coveted slots, by cancelling flights well ahead of their departure dates to enable both passengers and stakeholders to make alternative plans.