EU airport slot-use clauses for the summer 2021 amended

The current waiver is no longer justified for the next season

Photo: EU Adina Vălean.

An amendment to the Slot Regulation that relieves airlines of airport slot-use requirements for the summer 2021 scheduling season was adopted by the Council on Monday. It replaces the current full slot waiver, which is no longer justified for the next season. 

The amended rules allow airlines to return up to half of the airport slots that they have been allocated before the start of the season. They are then required to use at least 50% of their remaining slots in order to retain the rights of those slots for future years.

If routes are affected by measures adopted in the context of Covid-19, airlines may be exempted from this 50% threshold without losing their rights to these slots.

EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean commented that while the final text of the amendment differs from the Commission’s initial proposal, its objectives are fully maintained, including those of better adjusting slot rules to consumer demand for air travel, ensuring that the rules foster competition and setting the path for a gradual return to normal rules.

I expect that this initiative will incentivise airlines to make efficient use of airport capacity, and that it will ultimately benefit EU consumers, Commissioner Vălean stressed.

The amendment allows airlines to benefit from a full waiver for slot series returned before a certain date (8 days after publication of the amendment), but limits the number of slots that can be returned to 50% of the slots that an airline holds at a particular airport.

The 50% use-rate obligation for retained slots is lower than the standard 80% stipulated in the Slots Regulation.

 Airlines with limited operations at an airport can return all of their slots. This provision will benefit both EU and non-EU airlines.

The Commission has delegated powers for one year after the amendment enters into force, and so can extend the rules until the end of the summer 2022 season, if necessary.

The EU executive may also adapt the use rate within a range of 30-70%, depending on how air traffic volumes evolve.

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