Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Here’s how the airlines want to resolve the 80/20 slot rule for the Winter

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

As we covered in an article 10 days ago, no decision has yet been taken by the European Commission on whether the ‘use it or lose it’ airport slot rules will be reinstated for the Winter season.

The season runs from late October to late March. It compels an airline to use a take-off and landing slot pair on 80% of days, or forfeit the slot to another airline.

British Airways airport slot rules gatwick

Most legacy airlines, in the current environment, are desperate to see another waiver. Some challenger airlines, notably Wizz Air, are against. They believe that carriers should not be able to sit on unused slots if other airlines are ready and able to fly them.

A coalition consisting of IATA, the various slot co-ordination groups and the airline trade bodies has submitted an agreed set of proposals to the European Commission. Wizz Air won’t be happy with them.

You can read the document here.

Here’s a quick summary of the proposals:

a slot waiver should be granted for the Winter season

the waiver should not apply to airlines which have been given new slots for the Winter season – these slots must be used or forfeited

an airline which has announced that it is ceasing services to an airport should forfeit all of its slots immediately

Airport slot rules for winter season

The last point is an interesting one.

Virgin Atlantic has publicly announced that it is leaving London Gatwick. Its stated plan is to lease its slots to other airlines so that, if it chooses to return to Gatwick in, say, five years, it can take them back. It isn’t clear if this would still be allowed under these proposals.

British Airways, whilst unlikely to return to London Gatwick for a number of years for short haul (all short haul pilots at Gatwick have been fired, moved to the furlough pool or transferred to Heathrow) is keeping its long haul routes. Was this part of a plan to convince regulators it was still operating from the airport?

There is no guarantee that the European Commission will take this advice, of course, but to refuse it would mean going against the views of almost all the key industry participants.

With 25th October looming – the first day of Winter in the arline world – it needs to make a statement soon.

Comments (47)

  • Jonathan says:

    Does anyone know, what will happen if BA cancelled a flight booked on a 2-4-1 that then expired (i.e. within a day or two of the scheduled flight)?

    • pauldb says:

      You 241 is extended six months if you are referring to the original expiry, if you accept a cancellation of the booking. You can also rebook the same route for any date within a year of your original ticketing date (regardless of availability). Or you can opt for a Future Travel Voucher which holds all the value of your booking including the voucher for you to rebook travel (any route, subj to avios availability) anytime up to April 2022 so the 241 expiry is overwritten.

      • Jonathan says:

        So my 241 voucher originally expired in May 2020, and has already been extended 6 months until November 2020. Lets assume BA stop flying out of Gatwick for shorthaul for greater than 12 months so that option is off the table unless they allow a reroute via Heathrow instead. The other options are a full refund but i’d lose the 241 value or accept a FTV but this is only valid until April 2022. My travel plans for next year are booked and the others for 2022 will occur after April so that’s not attractive either.

        Do i just have to accept i shall lose the 241 voucher? What are the changes a FTV expiry will be extended?

        • memesweeper says:

          … unless they allow a reroute via Heathrow instead

          Very likely they will — they’ve done this for me, albeit not with an expired voucher. Even so I’m fairly sure they’d be unable to cancel your booking *and* expire your voucher and stay on the right side of consumer rights legislation.

  • Ajay says:

    Hi all, I can see short haul flights by BA from Gatwick to spain next year which is bookable – are we saying these flights will be cancelled in due course? BA will no longer be flying short haul out of gatwick?

    • memesweeper says:

      Most observers think yes (but rerouted to Heathrow) and yes (for an indefinite period)

      • Mark says:

        It’s already the case that BA is operating some Gatwick short haul services out of Heathrow, complete with their original BA2xxx flight numbers. Presumably any such switch results in any existing bookings being carried over by default. I don’t know whether anyone has tested whether that is sufficient grounds for a cash refund and if BA is readily agreeing to do so in such cases where the flight otherwise operates as planned.

    • John says:

      Basically – be prepared not to fly what you have booked

      • Nick says:

        BA are leaving their options open. Many people believe (and are justified) that there will be no LGW short haul next year. Others think it will return. Ultimately no one (not even BA) really knows. Your crystal ball may look different of course