UK Outlines Summer 'Amnesty' On Slots

The UK government has outlined plans to offer a one-off “amnesty” on airport slots rules to help airlines minimize disruption during the northern summer season.

Credit: Heathrow Airport Limited

As first reported by Routes, the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) will no longer demand that carriers use their slots for 70% of the time in order to retain the right to use them the following year.

Instead, airlines are being given a short window to hand back slots for the rest of the summer season that they are not confident they will be able to operate.

The UK government hopes this will help passengers find alternative arrangements ahead of time, rather than facing last-minute cancellations. The “exceptional measure” is still subject to parliamentary approval.

UK aviation minister Robert Courts said: “This is a hugely challenging time for our recovering aviation industry, but we cannot have a situation where passengers arrive at the airport just to have their flight cancelled or face long delays.”

Carriers are ordinarily required to operate slots 80% of the time to retain the right to use them the following year. However, slot waivers across Europe have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. In the UK, the government set a 70% threshold for the summer 2022 season.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, welcomed the planned “amnesty.” He added the move would help build greater resilience into operations this summer.

Earlier this week, Routes reported that the UK was set to scrap the existing slot rules for the season. Speaking at the IATA AGM in Doha, IATA regional VP for Europe Rafael Schvartzman said: “It is better late than never. We will look forward to continue working together with slot coordinators, airports and the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] to find the best systems for the rest of the summer.”

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