ERA (the European Regions Airline Association) has responded to the decision made by the European Commission to extend the airline slots waiver until 27 March 2021. ERA’s director general, Montserrat Barriga, stated that the recent lack of certainty over slots has made it difficult for airlines to plan their schedules for the upcoming winter months, as recognised in a statement by European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Iona Vălean.
ERA hopes that this agreement will enable airlines, airports and co-ordinators to have greater certainty in planning, allowing them to maximise the use of capacity at a critical time and promote the recovery of air connectivity, while still preventing anti-competitive behaviours. Additionally, this waiver extension will allow for specific cargo needs to be addressed, ensuring that cargo operators can leverage additional short-term capacity.
Montserrat Barriga stated, “We are very happy to see the European Commission has listened to our industry’s concerns and will be ensuring the ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ rule is not applied during the 2020/2021 European winter season. Air traffic is resuming slowly, but the latest forecasts show it is not expected to have returned to pre-crisis levels until at least 2024 and there is still a lot of uncertainty in regards to how the pandemic will develop.
“These facts cannot be overlooked and brought the urgent need for the slot waiver to be extended. This agreement will therefore play a key role in supporting European aviation in its recovery.”