Monday, October 19, 2009

No Extension of Slot Rule Suspension?

In its latest press release, the Association of European Airlines expressed "its disappointment that the [European] Commission had failed to bring the state of the industry to the table at the 9th October Council of Transport Ministers, thereby stifiling debate on the winter slots waiver."  See Press Release, AEA, Turbulent Skies: 35,000 Job Cuts, Record Losses Overshadow AEA Assembly, at 2 (Oct. 16, 2009) (available here).  The Commission had managed to pass a six-month suspension of the "use-or-lose" slot rule which requires a carrier to use a slot at least 80% of the time during a given season in order to retain it for the following season.  See Council Regulation 95/93, art. 10, 1993 O.J. (L 14) 1; see also Council Regulation 545/2009, 2009 O.J. (L 167) 24 (suspending the use-or-lose rule for the summer 2009 season).  However, it appears they have no interest in pushing the matter further.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, including the AEA.  In the recitals of the slot rule suspension regulation, the European Parliament stated that any future proposal to suspend or modify the use-or-lose rule "should be made only if it forms part of a proposal for a general revision of" the Community's slot rules.  See Regulation 545/2009, supra, recital (3).  Apparently the Commission is not in a position to offer a comprehensive revision to the EC's slot rules at this time.  That is unfortunate.  Having been in place for over 15 years and routinely subjected to criticism from industry stakeholders, the slot rules are in need of an overhaul.

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