On 11 February 2021, the Parliament adopted its position at first reading on the temporary relaxing of the slot utilisation rules at European airports due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The so-called “use it or lose it” rule, according to which, under normal circumstances, airlines have to use 80% of the slots allocated to them to secure this allocation in future seasons, was waived for the first time on 10 March 2020, and the measure was then extended on 14 October 2020 until 27 March 2021 in order to release the pressure on the whole aviation industry and decrease emissions by avoiding airlines flying almost empty aircrafts (so-called “ghost flights”). Since, however, it is not possible to predict when the period of severely depressed demand caused by the pandemic will end, the Parliament has set out a plan to ensure air carriers prepared to provide services are allowed to take up unused capacity and to maintain such slots in the long term, which, in turn, should encourage air carriers to make use of an airport’s capacity.
More particularly, according to the new rules for the scheduling period from 28 March until 30 October 2021 airlines will have to use 50% of the slots allocated to them during the previous scheduling period to secure this allocation in future seasons. Furthermore, where strictly necessary in order to address the evolving impact of the pandemic on air traffic levels, the Commission can amend such percentage within a range between 30% and 70%.