Ryanair Takes Issue With EU Slot Proposal Despite Industry Support

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Ryanair has objected to European slot relief proposals offering exemption from “use it or lose it” rules, despite agreement from other members of the Airlines for Europe (A4E) association. While Ryanair has yet to release its own statement on the matter, it is understood to be related to issues with European airlines receiving state aid without relinquishing slots.

Ryanair is unhappy with new slot relief proposals put forward by the European Commission. Photo: Getty Images

Slot relief measures for summer 2021

The European Commission’s proposal for lifting strict rules on slot usage has gained almost unanimous backing from members of A4E. The sole objector to the regulations is low-cost carrier Ryanair, which is expected to release a full statement on the issue in due course. The measures will exempt carriers from “use it or lose it” rules at airports for summer 2021 as part of recommendations put forward by the Worldwide Airport Slot Board.

Ryanair
European airlines won’t be forced to adhere to strict slot usage rules for the summer. Photo: Getty Images

Proposals were initially put forward at the end of January before some key improvements were made on the details, including the option for airlines to return slot series before the summer. Pedro Nuno Santos, President of the Council, said last month,

“With COVID-19 still very much around, it would be premature to go back to the old ‘use it or lose it’ rule. The new slot relief provisions strike a balance by providing much-needed help to airlines, encouraging competition in the industry and preparing for a gradual return to normality as soon as that becomes possible, while avoiding ghost flights and reducing emissions.”

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Why exactly is Ryanair objecting?

Ryanair has taken issue with the favorable treatment some European airlines have received over the course of the COVID pandemic. Recently, the airline challenged the German Government’s €6 billion ($7.3 billion) bailout for Lufthansa by filing a complaint with the EU. In this case, the dispute involved slots at Frankfurt and Munich, which Ryanair claim should have been given up in return for state aid.

Lufthansa Airbus A380
Ryanair claims European state bailouts create an unfair competitive balance. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The airline also objected to Air France receiving more state aid, claiming the airline must give up key slots to ensure fair competition. Ryanair argued that Air France should relinquish,

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“a substantial number of its take-off and landing slots at key French airports including Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly and Lyon. Either Air France gets no state aid or proper remedies should be put in place to ensure a fair and level playing field for all airlines.”

Officials in the EU have made it clear that Air France need only give up slots at Paris Orly Airport, believed to be 24 in total. Air France has objected to this, claiming that its operations at Paris Orly are central to its ability to recover. Ryanair has said that giving up 24 slots at Paris Orly is not enough and claims it is ready to offer French citizens the competition and low prices they deserve.

Do you think Ryanair is within its rights to complain about the new slot rules? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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