ERA welcomes airport slot rule changes in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus ERA, aviation

The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has expressed support for relaxing airport slot rules in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak by the European Commission.

The ERA supports the move to temporarily waive the much-criticised 80 per cent slot rule during these exceptional circumstances and welcomed the fact that regulators considered the current burden on airlines.

The proposed temporary suspension of airport slot rules will allow airlines to respond to market conditions with appropriate capacity levels without the risk of losing vital take-off and landing privileges in the future.

ERA director general, Montserrat Barriga, said the covid-19 crisis was having an enormous impact on the aviation industry, much more than initially anticipated, and it may be a burden not possible to overcome for some regional airlines as demonstrated by the recent collapse of Europe’s largest regional airline Flybe, which cited the virus as the final burden in its demise.

Given the unprecedented situation in aviation due to coronavirus, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has also shared that the virus will be viewed as “extraordinary circumstances” in instances where disruption has been directly caused by government (advising against all travel, or all but essential travel) or the activities of regulatory authorities or other third parties (for example closing airspace to the airline), and therefore the fixed sum compensation would not be payable.

The ERA supports this precedent set by the UK with regards to Regulation 261/2004 and continues to urge DG MOVE [The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport] to follow suit and consider providing an emergency, time-limited force majeure alleviation from passenger compensation.

According to DG MOVE, slots are allocated solely by independent coordinators and airlines must use 80 per cent of their allocated slots, or risk losing them in the years following.

This is known as the “use it or lose it” rule which will now be waived.

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