Airlines are seeking a waiver from Heathrow’s “use it or lose it” slot during this time of weakened travel demand. Absent that, expect a lot of empty flights to/from London Heathrow in the days and weeks ahead.
LHR “Use It Or Lose It” Rules
London Heathrow slots are valuable commodities; Air New Zealand just sold one yesterday for $27 million. In order to prevent against slot squatting, Heathrow requires airlines to utilize their slots 80% of the time or forfeit them.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps penned a letter to Airport Coordination Limited, an independent airport slot coordinator, urging loosened rules cockering the so called “80/20” rule:
“Aviation demand is reduced due to COVID-19, but airlines are being forced to fly some ‘ghost flights’ to avoid losing their slots – bad news for the environment, airlines and passengers”
Here’s the entire letter:
As Shapps notes, the 80/20 rule has already been suspended for flights to Mainland China and Hong Kong.
Here’s a primer on ghost flights flights from Heathrow, produced well before the COVID-19 outbreak:
Coronavirus should not be used as a foil for airlines to squat on Heathrow slots while artificial cutting back service to squeeze demand and raise pricing. But it is absurd to think that airlines will need to fly empty flights to/from London in order to avoid losing slots…a temporary exemption should be granted.
> Read More: Ghost Flights From London Heathrow