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Budget airlines want airport ‘use it or lose it’ slot rules enforced

The boss of Wizz Air, Jozsef Varadi, has renewed his calls for legacy airlines to stop blocking take-off and landing slots at constrained airports.

He told Reuters that if an airline could not operate its slots, it should be made available to rivals who could.

Airlines must use at least 80% of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them for the following year.

The EU suspended those rules at the start of the Covid-19 crisis, but has started partially restoring them, rekindling concerns over empty flights as the pandemic continues.

Varadi’s comments follow those of Ryanair’s group chief executive, Michael O’Leary, who waded into the debate about Lufthansa’s ‘ghost flights’ earlier this week.

The German airline had complained it had to operate thousands of flights to comply with slot rules.

Ryanair called on the European Commission to force Lufthansa and other airlines to release slots they do not wish to use for other carriers.

O’Leary said on Wednesday: “The solution to Lufthansa’s ‘ghost flights’ problem is a simple one – just sell these seats to consumers.

“If Lufthansa really needs to operate these flights (solely to prevent the release of these slots to competitor airlines), then they should be required to sell these seats to the public at low fares.”

Varadi, chief executive of fellow low-cost carrier Wizz, told Reuters the slot rules should be as they were before the pandemic to enable rivals to operate at constrained airports.

 

Last month, Gatwick and Wizz Air called for the UK’s airport ‘use it or lose it’ slot rules to be reinstated for summer 2022.

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