The Malta Independent 8 April 2020, Wednesday

MEP Agius Saliba seeking support to grant Air Malta full waiver on air slots in summer

Monday, 23 March 2020, 17:28 Last update: about 15 days ago

Later this week the Members of the European Parliament will be voting on the allocation of slots at Community airports.

In light of this crucial vote, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba,  is calling on MEPs to support further measures to grant airlines a full wavier for the whole summer seasons and not only until the 30th of June, as the Commission proposed.  “The COVID-19 outbreak is having a major impact on the international and European aviation industry. We are living in unprecedented times and this ban will be a first such occurrence in Air Malta’s 45 year history”, said MEP Alex Agius Saliba.

He continued by saying, “This situation may become a permanent fixture and Air Malta needs to be granted a waiver from the so-called 80-20 rule under the Slots Regulation. This rule, also known as the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule, requires all airlines to utilise the slots they were allocated in order not to lose their grandfather rights. Otherwise, the slots are lost for the following season and every year thereafter.

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The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has created a force majeure situation for Air Malta, leading to a situation where it will lose its slots in the future to airports such as Heathrow, Fiumicino, Orly, Charles de Gaulle, Berlin Tegel and Geneva. unless they operate empty flights, which is not sustainable and detrimental for Air Malta, our Maltese citizens and the environment. Furthermore, with airports closing on a daily basis, this is no longer an option either.”

Moreover, MEP Agius Saliba stated: “We need to cope with the current extraordinary circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and freeze those rules for the moment.

Therefore, I welcome the Commission’s proposed measures to ease the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the aviation industry and the environment, which the European Parliament needs to approve this week and call on all my colleagues to support my request.

In conclusion, since there is no visibility as to when the crisis will end, the possibility to extend the waiver for the winter season through a delegated act should also be kept.”

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