Airlines and Airports Agree on Winter Slots Waiver

Ahead of the winter season, airlines, airports and slot coordinators across Europe have agreed on conditions for waiving the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule and are waiting for the green light from regulators 

Facing the most difficult winter season in aviation’s history, airlines and airports have agreed to abide by a set of conditions together with slot coordinators for the extension of the waiver of the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule that could be applied for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. 

Continued uncertainty about a second wave of the pandemic and “haphazard travel restrictions have caused passenger demand to plummet”, says the Airports Council International (ACI) in a statement. “This has led to a slower recovery in European air transport and making the need for an extended slots waiver more urgent than ever.”

Heathrow Airports Limited 

To facilitate a prompt decision by the European Commission, ACI EUROPE, Airlines for Europe (A4E), Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the European Association of Slot Coordinators (EUACA) have agreed on specific conditions to ensure a timely return of slots not planned for use this winter. 

Rafael Schvartzman, IATA regional vice president for Europe, commented: “Only a full-season slots waiver will ensure that the flying of empty planes is avoided and enable flights to be operated in the most sustainable way possible. Airlines and airports in Europe stand ready to apply the agreed conditions as soon as the full-season waiver is granted and call on the European Commission to endorse this agreement and authorise the waiver immediately.”

 Heathrow Airports Limited

Without the waiver, airlines would be required to use their slots at European airports 80% of the time to ensure fair utilisation. As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, this has become increasingly difficult to achieve. 

In the past, some airlines have gone to extreme lengths to protect their slots while they have been unable to use them. Among other things, the waiver is designed to remove the need for airlines to operate empty flights. 

Photos: Heathrow Airport