EU proposes dropping airline slot rule in response to coronavirus

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission has proposed temporarily dropping the rule that airlines operate 80% of scheduled services to retain landing slots as the coronavirus outbreak pummels the global aviation industry.

“This temporary measure helps both our industry but it also it helps our environment. It will relieve the pressure on aviation industry and in particular on smaller airline companies,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday.

Industry pressure was mounting on European authorities to waive the rule requiring airlines to run 80% of scheduled services or else forfeit unused take-off and landing slots, amid concern it is inducing some carriers to run empty ‘ghost flights’.

Global aviation has lost almost a third of its value - $70 billion - this year, according to Reuters calculations based on the 20 top global carriers.

Additionally, European Union leaders will hold emergency talks in a video conference call on Tuesday afternoon to discuss a joint response to the virus outbreak.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Philip Blenkinsop