The COVID-19 outbreak is having a major impact on the international and European aviation industry. The situation is deteriorating on a daily basis. Traffic is expected to decline further in the coming weeks.
In order to help ease the impact of the outbreak, the European Commission will put forward targeted legislation to temporarily alleviate airlines from their airport slot usage obligations under EU law.
This measure will help both the European industry and the environment. It releases pressure on the whole aviation industry and in particular on smaller airlines. It also decreases emissions by avoiding so-called ‘ghost flights’ where airlines fly almost empty aircraft to keep their slots.
Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “The temporary measure will allow airlines to adjust their capacity in view of the falling demand caused by the outbreak. Without such a measure, airlines would have to continue to operate flights, even if largely empty, to guarantee their current slots at EU airports, with a negative impact – both economic and environmental. Given the urgency, the Commission will in due course present a legislative proposal and calls on the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly adopt this measure in co-decision procedure.”
Next steps: The Commission will shortly adopt a proposal to amend the EU Slot Regulation. This amendment will then need to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
Background: An airport slot is the right of an aircraft to take off or land at a congested airport at a certain time of day. Under the EU Airport Slots Regulation (EEC 95/93), airlines are subject to a ‘use it or lose it’ rule, and are required to operate 80% of their allocated slots, or face losing their right to the slot in future seasons.