“An airline can only use 80% of the slots it has and that clearly should be reviewed at an international level, up to 90% or so, in order to optimise the capacity of airports”, said the CCO of ANA, Francisco Pita.

The law provides that airlines can use only 80% of the slots allocated to them at airports, but since the beginning of the pandemic, due to the drop in demand, the European Commission has eased this rule to 75%. In July it proposed returning to 80%, but member states agreed that it would remain at 75% until March 2023.

Among the justifications are “the current high degree of uncertainty due to inflation, energy crises, a possible return of Covid waves and related measures, as well as the evolution of the war”, said the Council of the European Union (EU) in October.

Francisco Pita notes that this slot rule is about 30 years old and that, in this period, “aviation has changed radically”. Thus, he considers that “the revision” of this directive “is absolutely strategic” for airports, as well as an “opportunity to ensure improvements in connectivity”. And it is the change of this rule, possibly to the 90%, that ANA will propose to the European Commission.

One of the biggest controversies related to the rules for using slots involves TAP, with Ryanair repeatedly accusing the national airline of “blocking” slots at Lisbon airport. Following TAP's restructuring plan, the European Commission decided that the flag carrier would have to release 18 slots, which were eventually handed over to easyJet.