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November 10, 2021

UK coalition calls for reinstating airport slot rules

The ‘Use it or Lose It’ airport slot rule was suspended by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A coalition consisting of Gatwick (LGW), Belfast International (BFS) and Edinburgh (EDI) airports has written a letter to the UK Government, demanding restoration of the ‘Use it or Lose It’ airport slot rules.

In their letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the coalition, which also includes low-cost carrier Wizz Air, said that the move would benefit customers.

According to the coalition, bringing back the slot rules would enable customers to make an ‘effective choice’ of destination and airline with fair pricing.

The rules require airlines to use their allocated slot for at least 80% of the time or return their unused slots for use by other airlines.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘Use it or Lose It’ airport slot rule was suspended by the government.

But now the coalition is asking the government to re-implement the rule citing a projected increase in passenger volumes during next year’s summer season, driven by the easing of travel curbs and vaccination programmes.

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In its letter, the coalition also underlined the examples that created a negative impact on consumers.

Such issues have already been brought to the notice of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), it said, while stressing that authorities in other markets have restored ‘discipline’ in slot rules.

Finally, the coalition’s letter emphasised that the restoration of airport slot discipline in Europe has helped businesses and customers.

Gatwick Airport chief commercial officer Jonathan Pollard said: “In our view, it’s imperative that the UK Government gets fully behind the recovery of the UK aviation sector by restoring the slot rules so that competition once again flourishes for both the benefit of industry and the consumer.

“A continued slot waiver would be a disproportionate response to market conditions. A decision on the summer 2022 slots before Christmas would allow proper planning of resources to enable a smooth ramp-up of operations as the industry continues its recovery.”

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