FAA Joins EU With Relaxed Slot Restriction Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration will get rid of its “use it or lose it” approach for airport slots across the United States through May 31st. This decision follows a similar move that was recently made by the European Commission.

American A319
American Airlines is one of several US carriers that will be relieved to hear that the FAA has relaxed its stance on airport slots. Photo: Getty

Waiver in place

Airlines across the country will be glad about this shift, as the novel coronavirus outbreak has caused them to operate “ghost flights” in order to keep their slots at key airports. Traditionally, airlines need to use their slots at least 80 percent of the time. If they don’t, then they could lose these prized assets.

However, with drops in demand and strict regulations starting to be enforced, flights are increasingly becoming emptier. Several planes have been flying for no reason other than to keep slots. Therefore, plenty of people have criticized this approach due to airlines wasting money while releasing unnecessary CO2 emissions.

The FAA has changed its tune on its strict ruling amid the uncertainty that the outbreak is causing. In a press release, the government agency said it will temporarily waive its requirements.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration is temporarily waiving minimum slot-use requirements at U.S. airports to help airlines that cancel flights due to the coronavirus,” the FAA said, as per the press release

“The FAA expects that U.S. carriers will be accommodated with reciprocal relief by foreign authorities at airports in their countries, and may determine not to grant a waiver to a foreign carrier whose home jurisdiction does not reciprocate.”

Delta carbon neutral getty images
Delta will also be welcoming this development amid a period of bad news for carriers across the globe. Photo: Getty

Which airports are affected?

This waiver slot usage requirement applies to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). 

The group will also relax its schedule reviews at four other airports. This includes Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Airlines will receive credit for previously-scheduled flights at these airports that were canceled due to the virus outbreak through May 31st.

United Airlines Newark
All of the slots at the major airports in the New York area will be impacted by the change. Photo: Getty

A helping hand

This will be a small moment of good news for airlines. Altogether, it has been an increasingly unpredictable period for the aviation industry so any assistance will be appreciated.

Business Traveller reports that the European Commission also recognizes that by relaxing airport slot rulings, it can help the industry and environment. The group said it will help to release pressure on the whole aviation industry and in particular smaller airlines. Therefore, it will put forward targeted legislation to allow airlines to adjust their capacity.

What are your thoughts on these moves by governmental agencies? Do you think it will help airlines maintain their finances amid the impact that the virus outbreak is having? Let us know what you think in the comment section.