When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020 and air traffic was almost completely paralyzed, one of the concerns of airlines worldwide was how the aviation authorities would proceed with regard to airport slot entitlements, and they asked for the allocation rules to be suspended until there was clarity about the evolution of the restrictions (no one imagined then that the nightmare was just beginning and that there was at least a year to go before the world would start to reopen its borders).
One of the basic rules states that under normal circumstances slots allocated to an airline must have a utilization rate of at least 80%, or else it loses the historic right to them in the next equivalent season (there are two seasons, a summer season between March and October, and a winter season between November and March for the northern hemisphere).
Eventually authorities around the world relaxed that requirement, but as air traffic recovery has progressed, the usual slot allocation rules are also returning.
In this regard, as reported by our partner media in Brazil, Aeroin, the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC) this week published a resolution stating that, during the next winter season, which runs from 30 October 2022 to 25 March 2023, it will reinstate the 80% regularity target at coordinated airports for domestic flights. ANAC coordinates slots at São Paulo-Congonhas, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Belo Horizonte-Pampulha, Recife and Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont airports, while at key airports such as Brasilia , Belo Horizonte-Confins, Rio de Janeiro-Galeao and Porto Alegre, among others, this is done by the operator.
In the case of international flights, where the recovery rate is significantly lower, a waiver will continue to be granted as long as the departure and arrival times are from historical slots and are returned at least seven days prior to the baseline disclosure.
Airlines using the waiver will be able to make a new request for canceled slots 30 days after the date of return, subject to an assessment of the availability of airport infrastructure.
Globally, airlines have already spoken out against a full return to pre-pandemic slot rules.
«The chaos we have seen at some airports this summer has occurred with a slot utilization threshold of 64%. We are concerned that airports will not be ready in time to meet an 80% threshold by the end of October. It is essential that Member States and Parliament adjust the Commission’s proposal to a realistic level and allow for flexibility in the slot usage rules. Airports are equal partners in the slot process, let them demonstrate their ability to declare and manage their capacity accurately and competently, and then let us restore the use of slots next summer,» said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General, in mid-July, in response to the fact that the European Union would return to the 80% threshold from next winter season.