Airlines push to see airport slot waivers extended through much of 2021

Nov 26, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Aviation leaders have asked regulators to suspend airport slot access rules until October 2021. As airlines largely remain operating at a severely reduced capacity, global aviation leaders headed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have asked to drop slot requirements.

In a document seen by Reuters, the joint message from IATA, Airports Council International and slot coordinators is that regulators should extend the current waiver. Currently, regulators in some markets across the globe have waived the requirement that airlines must use 80% of their takeoff and landing slots or force conceding them.

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news!

The current waiver is set to expire on March 31, 2021. However, if the leaders of the major airlines get their way, the lax rules will be extended for an additional seven months, albeit at a lower rate.

The proposal would see the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule during the northern summer, but reduce its utilization rate to 50%, rather than 80%.

Related: Global air travel unlikely to recover until 2024 as COVID remains ‘issue’ in US, elsewhere

“All parties agree that the normal threshold (80:20) should be replaced by a lower threshold,” the document said. “(The) slot usage requirement threshold shall be set at 50:50.”

While the slot waiver extension would benefit legacy carriers with already large presences at the most slot-restricted airports, it hurts newcomers — mostly low-cost carriers.

“We oppose the extension of slot waivers into summer 2021 because this will lead to fewer flights and higher fares for consumers,” a Ryanair spokesperson told Reuters. “Legacy airlines at hub airports will have no incentives to operate flights. Slot waivers distort competition by preventing low-fare airlines from expanding while legacy carriers are able to reduce capacity and raise prices.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have largely reduced their operations. Given that regulators had waived slot restriction rules, airlines haven’t been required to continue operating at the same levels they did during pre-coronavirus times.

However, even with the slot restrictions waived, there has still been some movement at some airports. At London Heathrow Airport (LHR) for example, traditionally one of the most slot-restricted in the world, a number of airlines have been able to secure slots for the first time in their history.

Related: Why London Heathrow has some of the most expensive airport slots on earth

Scottish regional carrier Loganair was able to launch nonstop flights from London Heathrow to Isle of Man (IOM). Additionally, two Indian airlinesone low-cost — have been able to secure slots for the first time.

Governments will ultimately decide if the slot extension waiver will be extended. They’re faced with balancing the demands and requests of both full-service legacy carriers, which are largely represented by IATA, and low-cost carriers, which don’t typically have the same inclusion in those groups.

Related: Europe OKs suspension of strict ‘use-it or lose-it’ slot rules amid coronavirus outbreak

Featured photo by Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.