Airlines will be forced to run more flights this summer, no matter their passenger numbers, in a bid to keep hold of coveted take-off and landing slots.
Carriers must use their flight slots at least 70 per cent of the time, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced, up from at least 50 per cent of the time.
The move is designed to boost the industry as it recovers from the pandemic, and “balance the needs” of individual airlines.
While it could spark an increase in so-called ‘ghost flights’, carriers which use slots despite having no passengers to avoid having the slot revoked, the move was welcomed by Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The boss of British Airways’ parent company IAG, Luis Gallego warned that the decision will “force airlines” to operate flights with low passengers numbers, which will “generate unnecessary CO2 emissions”.
“This is bad for the environment and detrimental to aviation’s efforts to tackle climate change.”
Airlines once had to use their slots 80 per cent of the time, though the percentage was dialled back as pandemic restrictions grounded flights across the globe.
Shapps said: “Today’s extension marks a step back towards normal rules, helping the sector to recover and grow as travel returns, while protecting it against any future uncertainty.”
However, the rules for winter will remain at the same level they are now – 50 per cent.