EU proposes new airport slots rules for summer 2021

News conference presenting the bloc's strategy for sustainable and smart mobility in Brussels
European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Valean and European Commission Vice-president Frans Timmermans (not pictured) present the bloc's strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, December 9, 2020. Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The European Commission proposed on Wednesday new rules on airport slots for summer 2021, allowing airlines to keep those slots if they use 40% of them instead of the normal 80% as the travel industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, the European Commission introduced a waiver of the normal rule to avoid airlines operating empty "ghost flights" to retain slots.

European Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said the proposal would help provide relief to airlines, ensure efficient operations of airports and avoid "ghost flights", while also maintaining competition in the market.

"The proposed rules provide certainty for the summer season 2021 and ensure that the Commission can modulate further necessary slot waivers according to clear conditions to ensure this balance is maintained," she said.

The Commission said traffic forecasts indicated travel levels in summer 2021 would be at least 50% of 2019 levels. The 40% threshold would guarantee some level of service while providing airlines with a safeguard in the use of their slots.

The draft proposal still needs approval from the European Parliament and the EU's 27 member states.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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