Airlines operating at London City, Gatwick, Heathrow and many other UK & EU airports have been granted further flexibility to cancel flights without forfeiting slots.
Under EU “use it or lose it” rules airlines must use their slots for at least 80% of each travel season. Otherwise, the slots are forfeited and will become available to other airlines.
Following a ruling by the European Commission, ACL, which is responsible for overseeing slot allocations at London City, Gatwick and Heathrow, had allowed an alleviation until Tuesday 30 June 2020.
This was granted just two weeks ago and was due to be reviewed again in May. However, this alleviation has now been extended to the entirety of the summer season, until Saturday 24 October 2020.
ACL has published the following statement:
ACL acknowledges that the European institutions have decided to extend the temporary waiver from non-use of slots proposed by the European Commission so that it covers the full Summer 2020 season.
ACL will grant alleviation from non-use of slots to airlines at the 11 airports it coordinates across the European Union and the United Kingdom from 1 March 2020 to 24 October 2020; and alleviation from non-use of slots for flights to and from mainland China and Hong Kong for the period from 23 January 2020 to 29 February 2020.
Airlines are required to hand back slots that they seek to claim alleviation for at the earliest opportunity. Slots that are held and are not subsequently operated will not be granted alleviation as other carriers will have been denied the opportunity to use the available capacity.
As many travel restrictions remain in place and airlines are now largely operating repatriation flights to allow customers to return home, it is clear that it will be some months before airline schedules start to return to normal.
Some airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic, have consolidated operations at London Heathrow. London City airport has temporarily closed until the end of April. Yesterday, Finnair announced that it is to continue with a skeleton schedule until 30 June 2020.