MIAMI – European authorities have announced that Europe will suspend ‘Use it or Lose it’ rules for airlines’ slot allocation until March 2021, portal NI Travel News reported on December 16.

The move, which provides relief for struggling airlines, was cleared by European Union (EU) governments and the bloc’s Parliament before going into force, and will be valid until March 27, 2021.

G-JZHN, a Jet2Holidays Boeing 737-800 seen pushing back from Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport. Picture by James Field.

The Slot Allocation Rule

The continuous growth in air transport in recent decades has increased the strain on the capacity available for aircraft movements. As such, the need arose for a regulation on slots after the creation of a single market for aviation in the 1990s. These slots are defined as permissions to use the full range of airport facilities required for the operation of an air service on a particular landing or take-off date and time.

Common rules for slot allocation at EU airports were adopted in 1993 to ensure that airlines have access to the busiest EU airports on the basis of the principles of neutrality, transparency and non-discrimination as per the principles governing the slot allocation system found in the IATA Worldwide Scheduling Guidelines. 

Slots are assigned exclusively by independent coordinators, and airlines must use, or risk losing, 80% of their allocated slots in subsequent years—hence, the name ‘use it or lose it’.

London Heathrow aerial view. Photo: Heathrow airport

UK Will Still Apply EU Rules

“EU’s goal is to avoid a scenario in which empty planes fly routes just so operators can retain their slots, which are worth millions of dollars,” the portal stated.

The United Kingdom will still apply EU’s rules after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31, until British authoritiess define their new slot allocation rules.

Featured image: Alitalia Boeing 777 Taxing at Rome Fiumicino Intl Airport (FCO). Photo: Marco Macca @ita_aviator.