Europe OKs suspension of strict ‘use-it or lose-it’ slot rules amid coronavirus outbreak
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.
The European Commission has agreed to suspend strict requirements regarding airport slots in the light of the coronavirus outbreak. European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that the institution agreed that it would suspend the rule that requires airlines to operate a majority of their scheduled flights in order to avoid forfeiting their landing slots.
Currently, European Commission rules state that an airline must operate at least 80% of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. If an airline is found to have not operated the required amount of flights, it risks losing its right to the same slot in the next equivalent season.
However, the Commission will be suspending those rules temporarily.
“The Commission will put forward, very rapidly, legislation,” Von der Leyen said on Tuesday. “We want to make it easier for airlines to keep their airport slot even if they do not operate flights in those slots because of the declining traffic.”
Von der Leyen did not specify for how long the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule would be suspended.
Since the effects of the coronavirus have taken their toll on the travel industry, airlines around the globe have been forced to cancel routes and reduce operations in order to minimize losses. Until this point, some airlines had been forced to operate nearly empty flights, referred to as “ghost planes,” in order to keep the service in operation and remain complaint with usage requirements attached to valuable slots.
“Passenger demand for air travel has dramatically fallen due to Covid-19 and in some instances we are being forced to fly almost empty planes or lose our valuable slots,” said Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss, according to BBC.
Earlier in March, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on global aviation regulators, including the European Commission, to suspend the rules.
Additionally, U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps asked the European Commission to relax its rules on airport slots during the coronavirus outbreak. In the U.K., strict European Commission slot rules apply to London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Luton, London City and Manchester airports.
With the European Commission’s consensus to suspend the slot-forfeiting rule, airlines won’t be forced to continue to operate flights that are nearly empty — a win for the finances of an airline and the environment.
“This temporary measure helps our industry but it also helps our environment,” Von der Leyen said. “It will relieve the pressure on aviation industry and in particular on smaller airline companies.”
In 2003, regulators relaxed the slot rules during the SARS outbreak as well as in the aftermath of 9/11.
European airports — London Heathrow in particular — are home to some of the most expensive and sought-after slots in the world.
Featured photo by Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
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.
- 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