13 DECEMBER 2021


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Article from BTNews 13 DECEMBER 2021

Slot rules and Gatwick *

The airport slot rules have come under fire from Gatwick Airport who has uniquely teamed up with a potential winner if they are changed, Wizz Air.

In a statement the airport claims that passengers are concerned about increasing airfares if airport slot rules for next summer remain the same.

To back up the reasoning the pair have used figures produced by YouGov in a survey commissioned by Gatwick Airport and Wizz Air.

What the two are saying is that the airport should return to the 80/20 ‘use it or lose it’ airport rules for the vital summer 2022 season.

Airport slot rules ensure that UK consumers benefit from effective choice of destination and airline – and fair pricing – by ensuring that the aviation market is competitive. They do this by incentivising airlines to fly – and if not – trade or hand back unused airport slots so that other airlines can fly them instead, including new market entrants.

Gatwick and Wizz Air say they recognise that the pandemic is not over and that borders will be restricted as they have been in response to the Omicrom variant.  However, provisions under the existing 80/20 slot competition safeguarding regulations are adequate and provide enough targeted and proportionate protection for airlines in situations like these, under Force Majeure, the 80/20 rule would be suspended when genuine restrictions, such as closed borders or substantive quarantine periods, are in place.

The UK Government is currently consulting on the slot rules for summer 2022.

Earlier in this month, a coalition of UK airports and Wizz Air called for the urgent reinstatement of the previous 80/20 ‘use it or use it’ slot regulations – where airlines must use their assigned slots 80% of the time, or risk losing them – for the vital summer 2022 season in a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport.   

In the letter, the coalition said they have also raised the issue with the CMA – the UK’s competition watchdog – and pointed out that relevant authorities in other markets have all reinstated some discipline in their slot regulations, and that this has not led to ghost flights (flights carrying no or few passengers) but has in fact supported the restoration of connectivity to the benefits of passengers and businesses.

Much will depend on British Airways and the other airlines’ plans of summer 2022 and whether any slots are given up.  Airlines other than Wizz may also make bids.


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john Gee, Surbiton

With BA returning Gatwick must be happy and will become neutral again one assumes. But is Wizz overstretching itself?