European Commission Pledges Relief from 80/20 Slot Obligation

 - March 10, 2020, 2:02 PM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

Responding to calls from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Brussels-based trade group Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Commission on Tuesday pledged it will put forward “very rapidly” legislation to temporarily suspend the EU rule that requires air carriers to operate slots for at least 80 percent of the time to keep the entitlement in the next equivalent season. According to commission president Ursula von der Leyen the measure will relieve pressure on aviation as traffic continues to plunge owing to the global spread of the Covid-19 virus while it will also help the environment. The waiver of the so-called 80/20 use-it-or-lose-it rule, she said, “will decrease emissions by avoiding the so-called ‘ghost flights'—when airlines fly almost empty planes—simply to keep their slots.”

At this point in time, it is not yet clear for how long the commission will be willing to suspend the 80/20 rule at the bloc’s slot-congested airports. “It is too early for that,” a spokesman for the commission told AIN

IATA has requested a release from the 80/20 obligation for the whole summer schedule whereas the European Airport Coordinators Association (EUACA) on Monday advocated a more limited waiver, namely until the end of June 2020 “at the latest.” There could be “a provision for a possible extension should the Covid-19 outbreak crisis continue,” EUACA said, stressing the EU should base any decision to extend the waiver further on “supporting data.”

Once the commission adopts a proposal to amend the EU slot regulation 95/93 to include the temporary waiver of 80/20, the amendment will need approval from the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, which represents the interests of the member states. “Given the urgency,” the commission calls on the European Parliament and the Council to “swiftly adopt this measure in co-decision procedure,” commissioner for transport Adina Vălean noted.