FAA Waives U.S. Airport Slot Usage Rules

 - March 11, 2020, 10:47 AM

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

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday addressed calls by American Airlines and others for relief of slot-use requirements by temporarily waiving the rule that allows for carriers to lose their slots at congested airports if they don’t use them at least 80 percent of the time. The move follows a pledge a day earlier by the European Commission to put forward “very rapidly” legislation to temporarily suspend its own 80/20 “use-it-or-lose-it” rule at Europe’s airports to address traffic declines caused by the spread of the new coronavirus.

The FAA has waived the 80-percent-use requirement through May 31 for U.S. and foreign airlines that operated affected flights. “In doing so, the FAA expects that U.S. carriers will be accommodated with reciprocal relief by foreign authorities at airports in their countries and may determine not to grant a waiver to a foreign carrier whose home jurisdiction does not reciprocate,” said the agency in a written statement. “The agency will continue to monitor the coronavirus’s effect on travel demand and may adjust this waiver as circumstances warrant. The FAA will inform airlines of any decision to extend the waiver period as soon as possible.”

The waiver applies to New York's JFK International and La Guardia airports and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. For other U.S. airports where the agency maintains a formal schedule review and approval process—Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport—the FAA said it will give credit to airlines for flights canceled due to the coronavirus through May 31 as though they operated those flights when the agency conducts future schedule development.

In Europe, the waiver process requires 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.