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COVID-19: EU adopts slot waiver to help airlines

The EU will suspend until 24 October 2020 the airport slot requirements which oblige airlines to use at least 80% of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them the following year. The waiver adopted by the Council today is designed to help air carriers cope with the drastic drop in air traffic caused by the Coronavirus crisis.

Oleg Butković, Croatian Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, President of the Council yesterday said:

“It seems clear now that this crisis will not be over very soon. Waiving the ‘use it or lose it’ rule until October will help mitigate the heavy economic impact on airlines and give them certainty over the whole summer season.”

The waiver will apply from 1 March to 24 October 2020. It will also apply retroactively from 23 January to 29 February 2020 for flights between the EU and China or Hong Kong. The start date of 23 January 2020 is when the first airport was closed by the authorities in China.

If the current serious situation persists, the measure can be extended quickly by means of a Commission delegated act. The Commission will monitor the situation and report back on it by 15 September 2020.

Introducing the slot waiver required an amendment to the EU slots regulation.

The Council's vote on the amendment was taken by means of a written procedure, which was concluded today. The European Parliament voted on 26 March. Both institutions negotiated and processed the proposal as a matter of urgency.

The amending regulation is due to be published in the EU Official Journal on 31 March 2020.

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