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Airlines: EU Decides Less Strict Rules for Use of Take-off and Landing Slots

Photo source: © European Union 2011 - EP

Photo source: © European Union – EP

The European Parliament on Thursday voted to revamp rules for the use of airport slots in the EU to prevent “ghost flights” and support the transport sector during the pandemic.

The “use it or lose it” rule was temporarily suspended in March 2020 to stop airlines from operating empty flights during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic (ghost flights) only so that they could keep their planned take-off and landing slots in the next season. This exemption ends on 27 March 2021.

“To give more clarity on how slots will be used in the future, as the latest Eurocontrol forecast indicates that air traffic is expected to be around half of the level of last year, Parliament set out a plan on how to return to a normal application of the ‘use it or lose it’ rule,” an announcement by Parliament said.

Relaxed rules

According to the updated rules on slot use, airlines only have to use 50 percent of their planned take-off and landing slots for the 2021 summer season (instead of the 80 percent required before the pandemic) in order to keep them in the following season.

In addition, the European Commission can also extend the new rules to other seasons in the future, and adjust the minimum utilisation rate to between 30 percent and 70 percent.

“This will enable it to swiftly react to changing air traffic levels during the pandemic,” Parliament said.

Validity of some certificates will be extended

Moreover, the European Parliament on Thursday extended the validity of certain certificates, licences, periodic checks and training that are normally required in the transport sector under 15 different EU rules.

“Given the strict sanitary requirements currently in place, it remains difficult to renew a driving licence, test a car’s roadworthiness or review port security,” Parliament said.

The new rules allow the documents to remain valid for a further ten months if they expired between 1 September 2020 and 30 June 2021.

Parliament notes that EU governments can opt out from these derogations. However, to ensure the smooth functioning of the single market, they have to accept prolonged certificates from other member states.

The new rules will enter into force once the European Council gives its approval.

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