Airport Slot Requirements Now Being Waived

Filed Under: Travel

The FAA made an announcement today that many airlines will surely be happy about, and that could also lead to some further significant flight cancelations (probably even more than originally planned, given the Department of State’s warning to US travelers).

Many airports are slot restricted

Many congested airports around the world are slot restricted, which means that airlines need slots in order to operate flights to & from them. Sometimes these slots are awarded on a merit basis, while other times they can be purchased and sold.

The catch is that most slots come with a “use it or lose it clause.” That’s to say that if airlines don’t use their slots at least a certain percentage of the time (typically 80%) then they can lose the slots.

JFK is a slot restricted airport

Understandably that’s posing some major issues right now. With global demand for air travel massively down, airlines are forced to maintain capacity to markets out of fear of otherwise losing slots.

FAA relaxes slot requirements

The US Federal Aviation Administration has today announced that they’re temporarily waiving minimum slot-use requirements at US airports, allowing airlines to cancel flights at slot restricted airports.

Ordinarily airlines would need to use their slots at least 80% of the time in order to keep them, though that is now being waived through May 31, 2020 (and presumably has the potential to be extended).

This applies to both US and foreign airlines, though the FAA notes that they expect US carriers to be accommodated in a reciprocal fashion by foreign authorities. In the event that a foreign authority doesn’t grant a reciprocal waiver, the US won’t reciprocate either.

It does appear that most foreign authorities plan to reciprocate, as the EU Commission has announced similar plans.

Expect huge route reductions at Heathrow

For context, the three US airports with proper slot restrictions are in New York (JFK & LGA) and Washington (DCA).

On top of that, there’s a formal schedule review and approval process in Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), Los Angeles (LAX), and San Francisco (SFO). For the airports with a review process, airlines will be getting credit through May 31 as if they’ve been operating flights for future consideration.

What are the implications of this?

Up until now we’ve seen airlines maintain most service to major slot restricted airports, out of fear of losing slots. British Airways has even operated some empty flights between London Heathrow and London Gatwick, just so they technically operated the required number of flights.

At this point we can definitely expect more flights in prime markets to be cut, like New York JFK to London Heathrow, etc. American Airlines even announced they’d cut further routes if slot requirements were relaxed.

Expect American to cut further routes with these restrictions being lifted

Ultimately these waivers seem appropriate given the situation — no one wins when empty flights are unnecessarily being operated, especially when they are true “ghost” flights that are operated just to maintain slots.

  1. Now Imagine if “all countries” decided to seriously work together on finding a permanent vaccine against the coronavirus, so many lives would be saved and dramatic costly measures would be avoided

  2. Julia, all countries are working together on this through the WHO and bilaterally. Vaccines take time m.

  3. Now just imagine if “all nine women” decided to seriously work together on having a baby in one month.

  4. Now imagine what Willie Walsh is doing right now. He’s just gained an additional 12 slots at Heathrow that he doesn’t have to use right now. Add to that Air Europa is pretty much a done deal. He’s definitely retiring with a bang.

  5. The myth about BA operating flights between LHR & LGW is just that.

    At the present time they are repositioning a number of A319s LGW-LHR and a number of A320s the other way. This is to standardise their bucket and spade operation at LGW around the A320 for the summer season and make use of the A319s at LHR on business routes that have lower uptake in the main holiday periods.

  6. BA flights cancelled today ;

    BA31 London Heathrow – Hong Kong
    BA38 Beijing Daxing – London Heathrow
    BA39 London Heathrow – Beijing Daxing
    BA49/BA48 London Heathrow – Seattle
    BA134 Mumbai – London Heathrow
    BA135 London Heathrow – Mumbai
    BA160 Shanghai Pudong – London Heathrow
    BA168 Shanghai Pudong – London Heathrow
    BA169 London Heathrow – Shanghai Pudong
    BA314/BA319 London Heathrow – Paris CDG
    BA344/BA345 London Heathrow – Nice
    BA352 London Heathrow – Nice
    BA402/BA403 London Heathrow – Brussels
    BA426/BA427 London Heathrow – Amsterdam
    BA438/BA439 London Heathrow – Amsterdam
    BA442/BA443 London Heathrow – Amsterdam
    BA458/BA459 London Heathrow – Madrid
    BA464/BA465 London Heathrow – Madrid
    BA474/BA475 London Heathrow – Barcelona
    BA478/BA479 London Heathrow – Barcelona
    BA500/BA501 London Heathrow – Lisbon
    BA540/BA541 London Heathrow – Bologna
    BA542/BA545 London Heathrow – Bologna
    BA543 Bologna – London Heathrow
    BA544 London Heathrow – Bologna
    BA546/BA457 London Heathrow – Rome Fiumicino
    BA548/BA549 London Heathrow – Rome Fiumicino
    BA554/BA555 London Heathrow – Rome Fiumicino
    BA558/BA559 London Heathrow – Rome Fiumicino
    BA560 London Heathrow – Rome Fiumicino
    BA561 Milan Linate – London Heathrow
    BA562/BA563 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA564/BA565 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA568/BA569 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA570/BA571 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA572/BA573 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA574/BA575 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA576/BA577 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA578/BA579 London Heathrow – Venice
    BA580/BA581 London Heathrow – Milan Malpensa
    BA588/BA589 London Heathrow – Milan Linate
    BA604/BA605 London Heathrow – Pisa
    BA726/BA727 London Heathrow – Geneva
    BA742/BA743 London Heathrow – Geneva
    BA782/BA783 London Heathrow – Stockholm Arlanda
    BA808/BA809 London Heathrow – Copenhagen
    BA860/BA861 London Heathrow – Prague
    BA872/BA873 London Heathrow – Krakow
    BA908/BA909 London Heathrow – Frankfurt
    BA926/BA927 London Heathrow – Munich
    BA932/BA933 London Heathrow – Dusseldorf
    BA952/BA953 London Heathrow – Munich
    BA962/BA963 London Heathrow – Hamburg
    BA1316/BA1317 London Heathrow – Aberdeen
    BA1454/BA1463 London Heathrow – Edinburgh
    BA1484/BA1489 London Heathrow – Glasgow
    >BA2504/BA2505 London Gatwick – Edinburgh
    BA2540/BA2541 London Gatwick – Rome Fiumicino
    BA2576/BA2577 London Gatwick – Turin
    BA2578/BA2579 London Gatwick – Turin
    BA2584/BA2585 London Gatwick – Venice
    BA2586/BA2587 London Gatwick – Venice
    BA2596/BA2597 London Gatwick – Verona
    BA2612/BA2613 London Gatwick – Naples
    BA2700/BA2701 London Gatwick – Milan Bergamo
    BA3279/BA3280 London City – Florence
    BA3291 London City – Munich
    BA3292 Munich – London City
    BA4460/BA4463 London City – Dublin
    BA7021/BA7022 London City – Florence
    BA7300 Milan Linate – London City
    BA7303/BA7304 London City – Milan Linate
    BA8209 Billund – London City
    BA8210 London City – Billund
    BA8475/BA8476 London City – Nice
    BA8711 Edinburgh – London City
    BA8734/BA8735 London City – Frankfurt
    BA8761/BA8762 London City – Frankfurt.

  7. While its good that these requirements are relaxed, airlines should be forced to pay a small and modest fine payable to the airport or civil aviation authority directly to discourage future and likely frivolous requests for slot usage requirement relaxations.

  8. Might need to refocus the blog on US – UK travel for awhile. With all the travel bans and x markers leading to secondary screenings, it might be your safest option

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