The European Commission (EC) has adopted a new proposal on airport slot relief for the summer 2021 scheduling season mid next year.

The proposal is part of efforts to support aviation’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

As per the proposal, airlines can use 40% of their airport slots to retain their allocation and avoid losing them over the season.

The normal threshold for airlines is to use 80% of the slots awarded to them.

In addition, several conditions to make sure airport capacity is efficiently utilised have been introduced.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “With today’s proposal we seek to strike a balance between the need to provide relief to airlines, which continue to suffer from the significant drop in air travel due to the ongoing pandemic, and the need to maintain competition in the market, ensure an efficient operation of airports, and avoid ghost flights.

“The proposed rules provide certainty for the summer season 2021 and ensure that the Commission can modulate further necessary slot waivers according to clear conditions to ensure this balance is maintained.”

The proposal is awaiting approval from the European Parliament and Council.

Meanwhile, Europe’s airlines and airports have expressed concern over the proposal.

According to them, the EC’s proposal does not adequately address the current issues of the industry.

The industry also said that the proposal is not aligned with the Worldwide Airport Slot Board (WASB) recommendation.

Last month, the WASB, airports, airlines and slot coordinators negotiated a worldwide recommendation for relief measures.

In its proposal, EC recommended that the airport slots should be handed back three weeks prior to operation on a rolling basis. Also, it did not provide the option for airlines to return slots in bulk without risking future access to airports.

Furthermore, the proposal does not support airlines seeking access to airport slots next summer.

Airlines for Europe (A4E) managing director Thomas Reynaert said: “We appreciate the EC’s efforts to make a timely proposal for summer 2021 slot relief, but unfortunately it falls short of what is needed. The industry is now looking to the Council and the European Parliament to make the necessary changes.

“We need a practical, simple and implementable solution, not one that creates additional complexity for an ailing industry devastated by Covid-19. We jointly urge Member States and the Parliament to progress the WASB recommendation to support EU aviation’s recovery and improve consumer choice in 2021.”