The European Commission said on Wednesday it had extended its suspension of airport slot access rules until October 2022, providing relief for airlines still suffering from reduced traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commission said in a statement that the slot relief had been extended to the 2022 summer scheduling season running from March 28 to Oct. 29.
Airlines are normally required to use at least 80% of their take-off and landing windows or else cede some to rivals.
Instead, for the relief period, they will only have to use 64% to retain the rights to those slots.
The Commission said that air traffic had not fully recovered to 2019 levels, but reached more than 70% in summer 2021. Eurocontrol has estimated that annual air traffic in 2022 will be 89% of 2019 levels, according to its most likely case.
Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said the EU executive was monitoring the impact of the Omicron variant closely and had demonstrated throughout the pandemic that it could act swiftly if needed.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop)