Airport slots. The Commission amends and extends the temporary relief rules

On 23 July 2021, the European Commission proposed to amend the Slot Regulation and extended the slot relief rules, adopted in February 2021, to the coming winter scheduling season, running from 31 October 2021 until 27 March 2022.

In case of unexpected Covid-19 related measures affecting air traffic, airlines are exempted from the slot use requirement for slot used on affected routes. The Commission has delegated powers until 21 February 2022 allowing to extend the relief period and to adapt the use rate between a range of 30% and 70%, depending on air traffic and other indicators.

According to the Commission, extensive data collection and exchanges with stakeholders shows that air traffic is still low compared to 2019 due to the pandemic crisis. Therefore, further relief from the slot rules is necessary in winter 2021/2022.More particularly, instead of the normal requirement to use at least 80% of a given slot series in order to keep them the following year, airlines will only have to use 50% of a given slot series. The rate was set based on Eurocontrol forecasts, progress in vaccination campaigns and the Covid-19 certificate, and the Commission expects that during the winter season, traffic will be 70% of 2019 levels.

Finally, the so-called “justified non-use of slots” remains in place to address future unforeseen circumstances without unduly blocking airport capacity exception in case state-imposed measures impede passengers’ ability to travel.

Esmeralda Dedej