The Department for Transport (DfT) plans to allow a one-off “amnesty” on airport slot rules to minimise flight disruption this summer.
The government will give airlines a short window to hand back take-off and landing slots for the rest of the summer season.
These slots would be available for other airlines to use in the current season, and returned to the initial airlines in the next season.
The DfT says these regulations, which are subject to parliamentary approval, will allow airlines to “plan ahead and deliver a realistic summer schedule”, and benefit passengers by providing them with notice to make other arrangements.
See our coverage of the recent disruption at airports:
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“The British people have made huge sacrifices over the pandemic and, for many, this will be well-deserved time away that they haven’t had in years.
“That’s why it’s crucial they don’t face disappointing last-minute cancellations and chaos at airports when the system can’t deliver. And I will do everything in my power to stop that.
“[The] announcement aims to help airlines provide certainty to passengers and ensure the next few months are as smooth as possible.”
Aviation Minister Robert Courts added:
“This is a hugely challenging time for our recovering aviation industry, but we cannot have a situation where passengers arrive at the airport just to have their flight cancelled or face long delays.
“[The] announcement follows the discussions that my officials and I have been having with airports and airlines to understand where we can help them and ensure that they can run realistic schedules and make this summer a great success for the British public.
Richard Moriarty, CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“Providing passengers with certainty this summer is vital and this intervention will help to relieve the pressures we see being experienced by the aviation industry and its customers. Short-term measures are welcomed, but a continued focus on the unplanned and inevitable operational challenges is crucial for consumer confidence this summer.”
Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said:
“This is a welcome step that will help build greater resilience into operations this summer, coming on top of measures already taken by the sector. We will continue to work with ministers and the whole aviation ecosystem to ensure the summer peak runs as smoothly as possible for our passengers.”
Luke Petherbridge, director of Public Affairs at ABTA – The Travel Association, commented:
“The vast majority of flights have been going ahead as planned but some people have been affected by last minute cancellations. Allowing additional flexibility around airport slots will help minimise these late cancellations meaning, if necessary, any changes can be made in advance and our travel agent and tour operator Members can support customers to make alternative arrangements.”