EU countries agree temporary waiver from slot rules at EU airports

To ensure that the European Union properly responds to the current situation in the field of air transport, EU countries have reached an agreement regarding the waiver from slot-use requirements at EU airports, a statement by the Council of the EU said.

The deal, reached on October 12, foresees temporary measures in reaction mainly to the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath and to air travel impacts of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the statement said.

“The current situation in air transport is marked by a significant return of passenger demand in summer this year, as airports and airlines were not capable to completely reboot the capacity at the required speed,” it said.

“This upward trend is expected to continue, although it will stay below pre-Covid level for the coming months and is very different from one market or region to another.”

Most recent statistics show air operations below the baseline forecast.

As regards the upcoming winter season starting end of October, EU countires agreed that a high degree of uncertainty due to inflation, energy crises, a possible return of Covid-19 waves and related measures, as well as the evolution of the war, must be taken into account.

The Council of the EU’s mandate confirms the path advocated in a European Commission proposal, namely to move towards normality while continuing to provide certain flexibility.

To ensure a gradual approach in the surrounding uncertainty, EU member states agreed that a general slot relief at 75 per cent would still apply during the winter season, which lasts until March 25 2023.

In case of urgent need stemming from an epidemiological crisis or the war, the Commission will be empowered to modify that rule through delegated acts.

In addition, air carriers will be allowed to benefit from justified unused slots and count them as operated.

On the other hand, air carriers prohibited to fly into EU air space will lose their slots immediately.

The new regulation will apply to the coming winter season and until the end of the summer season of next year, for which the standard 80 per cent slot utilisation rule will apply, unless the Commission adopts a delegated act to change this rule due to crisis-induced disruptions, the statement said.

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