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EU Looks to Suspend Airport Slot Rules to Stop ‘Ghost Flights’

Εuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“Τhe situation in the aviation industry is deteriorating on a daily basis, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.” – Εuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

The European Commission on Tuesday announced that it will put forward targeted legislation to temporarily alleviate airlines from their airport slot usage obligations under EU law, due to the major impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having on the international and European aviation industry.

According to Εuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the proposed measure will help both the European industry and the environment.

“It will release pressure on the whole aviation industry and in particular on smaller airline companies and also decrease emissions by avoiding so-called ‘ghost flights’ where airlines fly almost empty aircraft simply to keep their slots,” President von der Leyen said.

Under the EU Airport Slots Regulation (EEC 95/93), airlines right now are subject to a ‘use it or lose it’ rule, and are required to operate 80 percent of their allocated slots, or face losing their right to the slot in future seasons.

President von der Leyen underlined that the situation in the aviation industry is deteriorating on a daily basis, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Air traffic is expected to decline further in the coming weeks,” she said.

The temporary measure is expected to allow airlines to adjust their capacity in view of the falling demand caused by the outbreak. “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,” Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said.

The Commission’s announcement follows the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) request that airport slot regulations be suspended for the entire running year due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to IATA, the growing spread of Covid-19 to more than 80 countries has impacted pre-bookings and may cost the airline industry up to 113 billion dollars in lost revenue this year.

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