Europe Will Protect Incumbent Airlines From Competiton At Its Airports Through Winter

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.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That was fast. They changed their position so quickly, faster than the speed of sound!

    But quite predictable.

  2. There comes a point where some slots will be given up due to non-use by one of the “incumbent” carriers. It’s a matter of when — not if — and how.

  3. Heathrow is actually operated by a Spanish controlled company so EU should be able to do SOMETHING to a Spanish company.

  4. As if to prove my point about your earlier article about UK slots supposedly not extending when it clear to any laymen why that notice had been issued.

    Doing so forced the EU to get it’s finger out it’s a** and actually make a decision.

    As stated earlier the UK WILL follow suit as until 1st Jan 2021 they are bound to the existing agreements under EU stewardship but I suppose by you adding the words “no word from the UK yet…” You can make a third, totally pointless, article out of it to REALLY milk a subject you clearly couldn’t be bothered to do any research on OR worst still, intentionally ignored the only known facts just to get 2-3 articles out of a total nothingness

    Report Card reads: Gary really must do better if he wants to be considered an actual journalist

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