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EU Council signs off on airline slot relief

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EU Council signs off on airline slot relief

Frankfurt Airport - Photo Africaspotter

(BRUSSELS) - EU ministers signed off an amendment to the Slot Regulation Monday, relieving airlines of airport slot-use requirements for the summer 2021 scheduling season, to protect airlines and help the environment.

Relief from airport slot use requirements will protect airlines and prevent the environmental harm that would be caused by running empty flights merely for the sake of keeping the slots for the next year.

The amendment replaces the current full slot waiver, which is no longer justified for the next season. It allows 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.

"We welcome the final text of the amendment which allows to better adjust slot rules to consumer demand for air travel, fosters competition and sets the path for a gradual return to normal rules," said the Transport Commissioner Adina Valean: "I expect that this initiative will incentivise airlines to make efficient use of airport capacity, and that it will ultimately benefit EU consumers."

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

Regulation amending regulation 95/93 as regards temporary relief from the slot utilisation rules at Union airports due to the COVID-19 crisis - adopted text

Slots (European Commission)

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