The European Council announced that due to the unprecedented circumstances in the continent’s skies, it was taking up “urgent measures” to temporarily suspend airport slot requirements. The member states’ ambassadors in the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee approved the mandate on March 20, 2020.
Slot rules within the European Union required airlines to use 80% of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them the following year. However, following the sharp drop in demand and worldwide travel restrictions, many airlines in the Union were forced to slash their capacity in order not to burn cash like there is no tomorrow.
The slot rules will be waived starting March 1, 2020, and will last until October 24, 2020, covering the entire summer season. Furthermore, the waiver will retroactively apply to flights between the EU and China and Hong Kong from January 23, when the first airport was closed in China due to the outbreak, to February 29, 2020.
If the situation does not improve, the waiver can potentially be extended, stated the press release. Similar waivers were used several times in the Union’s history, including during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
The mandate still needs to be approved by the European Union Council and European Parliament.
“Both institutions are working to finalize the proposal as a matter of urgency.”