A coalition of Gatwick, Belfast and Edinburgh airports has urged transport secretary Grant Shapps to restore the ‘Use it or Lose it’ airport rule.
Backed by low-cost carrier Wizz Air, the coalition has called on the government to revert to the slot rule – which imposes on airlines to fly, trade or hand back airport slots to incentivise competitiveness.
“In our view it’s imperative that the UK Government gets fully behind the recovery of the UK aviation sector by restoring the slot rules so that competition once again flourishes for both the benefit of industry and the consumer,” said Gatwick’s chief commercial officer Jonathan Pollard.
“A decision on the summer 2022 slots before Christmas would allow proper planning of resources to enable a smooth ramp up of operations as the industry continues its recovery.”
The regulation – which was removed during the Covid-19 pandemic to help airlines face the halt to air travel – urges airlines to use their allocated slot for a minimum of 80 per cent of the time. The industry is lobbying to bring it back as passenger numbers continue to rise following the ease of restrictions.
According to Marion Geoffroy, Wizz Air’s UK managing director, the ongoing suspension could bring an unfair advantage to competitors.
“We have been calling for the reinstatement of the 80:20 slot rules for some time and would strongly urge the UK Government to put these plans in place ready for the 2022 summer season,” she said. “It is simply wrong that some UK airlines should be allowed to hold onto these slots for another season if they have no intention of operating them.”
A Department for Transport’s spokesperson replied: “We are due to consult on airport slots shortly, and will set out firm plans for the summer 2022 season early next year.”