Europe’s airline and airport industry has called on the European Commission to extend the current slots waiver for the winter season.
Organisations including ACI Europe, Airlines for Europe (A4E), Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the European Association of Slot Coordinators (EUACA) have agreed on conditions to ensure a timely return of slots not planned for use this winter, in a bid “to facilitate a prompt decision by the European Commission”.
These include the waiver not applying to series of slots of an airline that permanently ceases operations at an airport.
The current waiver of the so called “use it or lose it” rules – which require airlines to operate at least 80 per cent of allocated slots, or face losing their right to the slot in future seasons – is set to come to an end on October 24.
But the organisations said 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”.
Rafael Schvartzman, IATA Regional Vice President for Europe said that “Only a full-season slots waiver will ensure that the flying of empty planes is avoided and enable flights to be operated in the most sustainable way possible”, while Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI Europe commented:
“Decisions must be made now to enable the timely return of slots for the winter season once the waiver is granted. This will give airports and airlines certainty in planning their schedules and operations and ensure that passengers know what to expect in the tough months ahead. Further delays will paralyse the winter planning process and add millions in costs for all parties.”
But low-cost carrier Wizz Air recently called for an end to the waiver, claiming that any extension “would be anti-competitive and would hinder rather than help the recovery of the EU aviation industry and, therefore, European economies”.