ACI Europe urges return of 80/20 airport slot-use rate
The Airports Council International Europe has urged European institutions to fully endorse the return to the 80/20 airport slot usage rate for the Winter 2022-23 season.
Ahead of final discussions between the EU Council and the European Parliament, Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) has urged both institutions to fully endorse the European Commission’s recommendation to return to the 80/20 airport slot usage rate for the Winter 2022-23 season.
It is imperative that the EU Council and European Parliament now agree on slot rules which truly put connectivity and consumers first – rather than the interest of a few airline groups. The Commission proposal is rational, balanced and data-driven. It grants all the necessary flexibility to airlines to keep slots they cannot use due to the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or operational disruptions – while recognising that aviation’s recovery is well under way.
The European Commission’s proposal is backed up by current traffic data, strong forecasts and ample evidence of market stabilisation:
- EUROCONTROL foresees a recovery in the total number of flights of up to 90 per cent of 2019 levels by the end of the year (2022)
- Airline seat capacity in Europe has increased to 84 per cent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels in Q3 this year (2022) and is projected to reach 87 per cent in Q4
- Several airlines including Air France1, Iberia2 and SAS3 have publicly announced strong programmes and new routes for the Winter season.
All this demonstrates high demand and a very strong recovery across the European Network, clearly negating the need for a blanket lower airport slot usage rate.
Yet, by insisting on a lower usage rate of 70 per cent – or even less – a number of EU Member States have so far ignored market realities and chosen to side with vested airline interests at the expense of the rest of aviation, eroding connectivity and the choice available to consumers. The lower usage rate over the summer already contributed to a 13 per cent increase in air fares in July and August 2022. It was also a contributing factor to congestion and operational disruptions seen at many airports.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe commented: “By allowing airlines to keep airport slots they do not operate without justification, a lower blanket usage rate would prevent other airlines from using these slots. This means wasted airport capacity, reduced connectivity, higher fares for consumers and foregone airport income. Let’s call a spade a spade – this would be akin to granting a subsidy to some airlines at the direct expense of consumers and the rest of the industry. This is not what a Single Aviation Market should be about.”