Slot Renewal Extension Faces Opposition


The FAA says it’s considering extending relaxation of slot requirements at major airports well into next year but not all airlines are in favor of the move. With the reduction in flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency waived the requirement that airlines must use at least 80 percent of the slots they’re allotted to maintain them. The agency is proposing extending that waiver to the end of March 2021. Many major airlines say they’re only using a fraction of the slots they jealously guard at airports like JFK, O’Hare and Atlanta, among others. The FAA said in a statement the proposed extension “reflects a delicate balancing of the competing interests of carriers interested in conducting ad hoc operations … against the interests of incumbent carriers seeking maximum flexibility in making scheduling and operational decisions in an uncertain environment with ongoing COVID-19-related impacts.”

But Spirit airlines says the FAA should get out of the way and let the market decide who gets those slots. The budget carrier said in a statement that “public policy should be directed toward enabling the free market to reallocate the use of these slots/authorizations—a public resource—such that passengers receive greater choice among offerings in these key markets.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. The slot systems seem messed up. I admit to not fully understanding things here, but Spirit would seem to have a point. If more people want to fly Spirit, then a fair system would be they get more slots.