To support the transport sector during the pandemic, MEPs revamped rules for the use of airport slots to prevent ghost flights and extended the validity of some licences.
Parliament temporarily suspended the ‘use it or lose it’ rule in March 2020 to stop airlines from operating empty flights during the pandemic (ghost flights) only so that they could keep their planned take-off and landing slots in the next season. This exemption ends on 27 March 2021.
To give more clarity on how slots will be used in the future, as the latest Eurocontrol forecast indicates that air traffic is expected to be around half of the level of last year, Parliament set out a plan on how to return to a normal application of the ‘use it or lose it’ rule.
Now that the slot utilisation rules have been updated (approved on the 11th of February with 683 votes in favour, 3 against, 4 abstentions), airlines only have to use 50% of their planned take-off and landing slots for the 2021 summer season (instead of the 80% required before the pandemic) in order to keep them in the following season. In addition, the European Commission can also extend the new rules to other seasons in the future, and adjust the minimum utilisation rate to between 30% and 70%. This will enable it to swiftly react to changing air traffic levels during the pandemic.
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