Air companies will not lose their airport slots this summer, according to a decision by the European Parliament in what is the first European measure to support carriers. Airlines have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, as most have seen their flight numbers cut considerably, if not canceled altogether.
The proposal for the suspension of European Union rules on airport slots – i.e. the fixed rights to take off and landing each carrier has at the airports it uses – was unanimously passed by MEPs (686 votes for, none against and two abstentions) and constitutes the first relief measure for the battered sector.
The “use it or lose it” rule, which demands the execution of a minimum number of flights in specific slots, has been suspended for the entire summer season (i.e. from March 29 to October 24). The temporary suspension means that the airlines are not forced to use their scheduled flight times to hold on to them.
This follows the demand for government support by six small Greek airlines last week, and the hope expressed by Eftychios Vassilakis, the head of Greece’s main carrier Aegean, for national and European intervention.