Europe has reversed course and announced an intention to protect incumbent airlines from competition at its airports at least through winter. Immediately after the company that coordinates takeoff and landing slots for 46 airports warned airlines that they were going to have to use their slots in the U.K. and Europe or lose them this winter, the European Commission introduced a proposed regulation to extend the waivers. I take it then that Airport Coordination Limited’s warning was more political pressure than prediction.
Currently the requirement to fly 80% of granted slots or lose them is waived until October 24. However the EU will extend this because “air traffic is still expected to be down by 15-25 percent in February 2021 (compared to February 2020).”
However there’s no word on how long the extend will last. Airlines have requested it run until spring, but the European Commission recognizes that the waivers (although, really, the slots themselves) are anti-competitive since there are airlines willing to fly that cannot in order to preserve government-granted slots as a property right for incumbents. The Commission will “address some questionable practices that could affect competition” in some indeterminate way as part of the extension.
There’s no immediate word on whether the U.K. will act in similar fashion to extend use it or lose it rule waivers for its airports, though there will be immense pressure for it to do so. Such a move would bestow the largest benefit upon British Airways, widely considered a bad actor during the pandemic.
(HT: Frederik R.)