Airlines will not have to give up their take-off and landing slots if they do not use them this winter, the European Commission has ruled.
The EU normally operates a “Use it or lose it” policy, but suspended this during the pandemic. Now European Commissioner Adina Valean has extended this waiver until next spring.
She said traffic levels “are not likely to recover in the near future”.
“In this context, the lack of certainty over slots makes it difficult for airlines to plan their schedules, making planning difficult for airports and passengers. To address the need for certainty and responding to traffic data, I intend to extend the slot waiver for the 2020/2021 winter season, until 27 March 2021.”
She said this meant airlines could now make any excess capacity available for others to use and avoid the need for “ghost” flights where empty aircraft are flown to keep slots open.
Separately, the EU is looking into how slots are distributed and used.
“Slots are not always relinquished in time for other users or airports to plan operations as they would like; competition may also be distorted if airlines seek to benefit by increasing their market presence without using their slots and airport capacity correctly.
“Such behaviour can hamper competition and can, therefore, harm EU passengers and freight customers. This must be remedied,” Valean said.
The Commission is currently consulting on the issue and Valean said she hoped to present proposals “before the end of the year”.