The British government has decided to extend the relaxation of airport slot rules through the summer season, but the minimum usage threshold has been raised to 70%.
This raises the bar higher than it is in the European Union, implying that the UK will no longer be shadowing Brussels on slot usage thresholds, as it has been since the Brexit vote.
Carriers must typically use slots 80 percent of the time to keep their rights to use them the following year. The European Commission, however, has waived the “use it or lose it” rule for the summer 2020 and winter 2020/21 seasons in response to the pandemic.
Following the completion of the Brexit transition period, during which the UK followed Brussels’ slot regulations, the UK decided to prolong the waiver to include the summer 2021 season and then implement a 50% criterion for winter 2021/22 season, in decisions that mirrored the EC’s.
However, the UK’s planned hike to a 70% requirement beginning March 27 is a departure from EU policy. For the summer season, Brussels has set a lower 64 percent threshold.
“Since the onset of the pandemic we have provided relief from the slots usage rule to provide financial stability to the sector and prevent environmentally damaging ghost flights,” UK aviation minister Robert Courts said.
“As demand for flights returns, it’s right we gradually move back to the previous rules while making sure we continue to provide the sector with the support it needs.”