EC proposes measures to limit COVID-19 impact on aviation industry

By temporarily suspending airport slot regulations, the European Commission hopes to alleviate the pressure on airports and airlines amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

EC proposes measures to limit COVID-19 impact on aviation industry

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has an increasingly major impact on the international and European aviation industry, the situation is now deteriorating on a daily basis and traffic is expected to decline further in the coming weeks.

In order to help ease the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission (EC) will put forward targeted legislation to temporarily alleviate airlines from their airport slot usage obligations under EU law.

Adina Vălean, the European Commissioner for Transport, said: “The temporary measure will allow airlines to adjust their capacity in view of the falling demand caused by the outbreak. Without such a measure, airlines would have to continue to operate flights, even if largely empty, to guarantee their current slots at EU airports, with a negative impact – both economic and environmental. Given the urgency, the Commission will, in due course, present a legislative proposal and calls on the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly adopt this measure in co-decision procedure.”

The measure will have multiple benefits – helping both the European aviation industry and the environment. By releasing pressure on the whole aviation industry and, in particular, on smaller airlines, it also decreases emissions by avoiding so-called ‘ghost flights’, where airlines fly almost empty aircraft to keep their slots.

The European Commission will shortly adopt a proposal to amend the EU Slot Regulation, which will then need to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

The proposal comes after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) began contacting aviation regulators across the globe with the request that the rules governing the use of airport slots be suspended with immediate effect and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of COVID-19. Given the situation, the collective view of the airline industry is that the application of the 80 per cent rule during the upcoming season is inappropriate and a requirement that is unattainable.

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