EU member states have agreed to extend the temporary waiver on slot-use rules at the bloc’s airports until the next quarter.

It comes as the aviation sector continues to cope with the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest agreement set 75% as the threshold for slot usage during the next 2022/2023 season, which lasts till 25 March 2023.

This is up from the 64% threshold set for the previous 2022 quarter.

“The current situation in air transport is marked by a significant return of passenger demand in summer this year, as airports and airlines were not capable of completely rebooting the capacity at the required speed,” the European Council stated.

This new 75% use or lose it rule slot rule will be in effect until next summer, after which the standard 80% slot utilisation rule will be applicable.

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The European Council is expected to adopt the legislative act on 17 October 2022.

Czech Deputy Permanent Representative Jaroslav Zajíček said: “Air traffic is returning to the pre-pandemic volumes.

“This new regulation aims to ensure a gradual return to normality in line with this trend. It will provide more certainty to airports and air carriers, improve connectivity across Europe and will make air travellers’ lives easier.”

In July last year, the European Commission (EC) sanctioned an €800m Italian scheme to compensate airports and ground-handling operators affected by the pandemic.

All airports and ground-handling operators having a valid operating certificate from the Italian civil aviation authority are eligible for the grants.