UK announces amnesty on ‘use them or lose them’ airport slots rule

London Heathrow Airport ©AirTeamImages

The British government has announced it is relaxing rules governing the use of airport slots in the UK as a means of counteracting the current spate of carriers’ flight cancellations.

Previously, airlines had been notified that if they did not use a minimum of 70% of all their slots, then they would lose those they were not using. As a consequence, to protect what are seen as a valuable asset, many airlines scheduled flights that they knew they would be unable to operate owing to severe staff shortages created by the ramp-up in demand for air travel post pandemic restrictions. Instead, the government has given an “amnesty” on “use them or lose them” airport slots, allowing airlines a short period of time in which to hand back slots for take-off and landing, though just for the summer season.

“It’s crucial (people) 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,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps said. “Today’s [Tuesday’s] announcement aims to help airlines provide certainty to passengers and ensure the next few months are as smooth as possible.”

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