The European Union Commission has extended airport slot relief rules for airlines for the next summer season from March 28, 2022, until October 29, 2022.

Instead of using at least 80% of their airport slots, the rule will grant European airlines the right to use 64% to retain its historic slots for the next summer season. Currently, the minimum airport slot usage threshold is set at 50%.

“I know the aviation sector is concerned about the new Omicron variant and the recent drop in airline bookings,” Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, announced in a statement. 

The “justified non-use of slots” rule, which protects carriers’ rights to its historic slots, entered into force when the pandemic-related travel restrictions hindered international air traffic across the globe.   

Vălean added: “Even if we are not there yet, we can take a step further towards the return to normal airport slot management next summer. The decision we adopt today is a sign of that, as we increase the requirements for slot use.” 

According to Eurocontrol, the annual air traffic in 2022 will likely reach 89% of pre-COVID levels. 

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