The UK Government has announced a one-off ‘amnesty’ on airport slots rules, which will enable carriers to plan ahead, provide realistic summer schedules and avoid last-minute flight cancellations.
Usually, airlines are required to use their allocated takeoff and landing slots or risk losing them.
However, the recent surge in air travel demand, coupled with staff shortages, has created disruption at airports, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
With the new move, airlines will have the option to give back their allotted slots for the rest of the summer if they are not confident about using them.
Slots given back by airlines will be offered to other carriers for the current season and returned in the next season.
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.
“Today’s announcement follows the discussions that my officials and I have been having with airports and airlines to understand where we can help them and ensure that they can run realistic schedules and make this summer a great success for the British public.”
The latest move is intended to create more certainty among passengers, who can make alternative arrangements.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The British people have made huge sacrifices over the pandemic and, for many, this will be well-deserved time away that they haven’t had in years.
“That’s why it’s crucial they don’t face disappointing last-minute cancellations and chaos at airports when the system can’t deliver. And I will do everything in my power to stop that.
“Today’s announcement aims to help airlines provide certainty to passengers and ensure the next few months are as smooth as possible.”