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July 23, 2021

UK’s Gatwick Airport criticises slot allocation plan for winter

It is argued that the plan will enable incumbent carriers to hold slots and prevent their use by competitors.

Gatwick Airport in the UK has reportedly criticised a plan that will enable the airlines to hold their unused airport slots over the upcoming winter season.

According to a Bloomberg report, the airport opposed the move citing that such a step will further delay the recovery of the aviation sector.

The draft legislation will enable the operating air carriers to retain the rights to airport slots if it is returned for reallocation by 7 September 2021. They can again pick those in the next year.

Additionally, the carriers will be required to use only 50% of the slots that remain.

Usually, an airline is required to utilise at least 80% of the slots allocated to them, else they are taken away at the end of the scheduled period.

Bloomberg stated that in a letter to the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Gatwick chief commercial officer Jonathan Pollard said that the new plan will allow incumbent carriers to retain substantial airport slot portfolios blocking their potential use by competitors.

The decision will also impact airport revenues.

After the Covid-19 pandemic hammered travel demand, the UK announced a waiver on airport slot rules and subsequently extended it to help the airlines survive the pandemic.

The publication added that the policy helped the established carriers but increased obstacles for new entrants or for those who planned to operate additional flights.

However, with international travelling starting to resume, there is growing pressure from airlines and airport operators to switch back to usual rules.

The draft legislation is for the scheduling period which runs from 31 October 2021 to 26 March 2022.

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