A4E welcomes today’s swift action by the European Commission and Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean granting airlines a temporary waiver on the airport slots 80/20 rule through 30 June 2020. A4E also welcomes that the waiver applies from 1 March (i.e. for the remainder of the current winter season), and retroactively for flights to Hong Kong and China between 23 January and 29 February.
“Europe’s airlines will feel the impact of COVID-19 for months to come, and while this is a good first step — we expect an extension of the waiver for the full summer season will likely be necessary”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, Airlines for Europe (A4E).
Such an extension would provide airlines the certainty they need to respond flexibly to the evolving COVID-19 crisis.
“For the sake of efficiency and predictability, and rather than seeking extensions on a rolling basis, a longer waiver would allow airlines to fly where the demand is and allow airports to adapt their services accordingly”, Reynaert added.
In light of recent developments, Europe’s aviation sector is increasingly impacted. The U.S. travel restrictions have now placed EU airlines on a worse footing than before, and there is an urgent need to safeguard the competitiveness of European aviation. The slots waiver and other supportive measures, including the deferment of new aviation taxes, the categorisation of COVID-19 as an extraordinary circumstance under regulation EU261 (air passenger rights) and positive consideration towards national support measures should be actioned as a matter of priority in the coming weeks.