Today, the Commission adopted an extension to the slot relief rules of the 2022 summer scheduling season, running from 28 March 2022 until 29 October 2022. Instead of the normal requirement to use at least 80% of a given slot series, airlines will only have to use 64% to retain historic rights in those slots during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While air traffic has not yet fully recovered to 2019 levels, it reached levels above 70% in the second half of the summer 2021 scheduling season. Eurocontrol's most likely traffic forecast estimates that annual air traffic in 2022 will be 89% of 2019 levels. The new use rate will ensure the efficient use of airport capacity while benefiting consumers. The ‘justified non-use of slots' exception, protecting airlines' historic rights to slots when state-imposed COVID-19-related measures severely impede passengers' ability to travel, will also be extended.

Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said: “he progress in vaccination campaigns and the EU Digital COVID-19-19 Certificate have helped to restore traveller confidence and air connectivity in the EU, putting the industry in a stronger position to deal with short-term shocks. Even if we are not there yet, we can take a step further towards the return to normal airport slot management next summer. The decision we adopt today is a sign of that, as we increase the requirements for slot use.  I know the aviation sector is concerned about the new Omicron variant and the recent drop in airline bookings. We are monitoring the situation closely. The Commission has demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 crisis its willingness and ability to act swiftly where needed, and this will remain the case in the coming months.”