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Brussels, 10 March 2009

The Commission proposes making rights to slots more flexible in order to counteract the impact of the crisis on air transport

The European Commission has today adopted a proposal for an amendment to the 'slots' Regulation[1] which it is submitting to the European Parliament and the Council for urgent adoption. This temporary measure would allow airlines to keep their rights over slots.

A slot is a time-range the use of which is allocated or reserved to a certain airline for taking off from or landing at congested airports. The "use it or lose it" rule means that an airline has the right to keep its slots from one season to the next provided 80% of them were taken up.

The economic and financial crisis has, naturally, also had a knock-on effect on the airline sector, which has seen a drop in traffic since the end of 2008. The summer 2009 scheduling season (29 March 2009 to 24 October 2009) will also be affected by the economic crisis. In order to deal with this, airlines have to reduce their capacity.

In order to prevent airlines maintaining their capacity and operating purely in order to keep their slots, the Commission is proposing a temporary freeze of the 80-20 rule during the 2009 summer season (April to October) just as it did in 2001-2002 and 2003, in order to allow airlines to reduce their activity without losing their slots. Carriers will thus have access during the 2010 summer season to the same slots they had in summer 2009, regardless of whether or not they used them.

This measure is planned for only one season (summer 2009). However, depending on how serious the situation appears as the 2009-2010 winter season approaches, the Commission may decide, on the basis of a thorough impact study, to renew all or part of the scheme, which would then also have an effect on the 2010-2011 winter season.

[1] Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 of 18 January 1993 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports (OJ L 14, 22.1.1993, p. 1).

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