On February 11, 2021, the European Parliament approved to extend less strict measures for use of takeoff and landing slots, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact the European airlines.
The measure will allow airlines to use half of their take-off and landing slots for the 2021 summer season, starting from March 28. Before the pandemic, airlines were required to utilize 80% of their slots if they wanted to retain them the next season.
“Now that the slot utilisation rules have been updated, airlines only have to use 50% of their planned take-off and landing slots for the 2021 summer season,” the EP statement read.
In March 2020, the so-called “use it or lose it” rule was suspended by the European Parliament until March 27, 2021. The suspension was aimed to stop airlines from operating empty flights (also known as ghost flights) during the pandemic only so that they could keep their planned take-off and landing slots in the next season.
On February 11, 2021, the largest EU airlines association, Airlines for Europe (A4E), welcomed relief measures regarding airport slots, saying that “the agreed proposal will help to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis on European airlines, preserve future connectivity for EU citizens.”
However, A4E warned that its member Ryanair does not share this position and is yet to release its own statement, suggesting that the airline may share an opposing view regarding the EU approved airport slot relief.