March 20, 2020 / 12:01 PM / 5 months ago

EU states agree to suspend airline slot requirements until October

FILE PHOTO: People line up at the Delta Air Lines ticketing desk inside Terminal 2E at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, after the U.S. banned travel from Europe, as France grapples with an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The EU agreed on Friday to suspend requirements that oblige airlines to use at least 80% of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them the following year until Oct. 24 due to the aviation industry crisis unleashed by coronavirus.

“This slot waiver will provide the necessary flexibility and certainty for our aviation industry in this unprecedented situation. Nobody wants empty planes in the sky ... “ said Croatia’s transport minister, Oleg Butkovic, whose country is currently president of the European Council.

Ambassadors representing the 27 EU nations agreed on the move, saying the waiver would also apply retroactively from 23 Jan. to 29 Feb. 2020 for flights between the EU and China or Hong Kong.

The Council said the measure could be extended quickly if the current serious situation persists.

The proposal needs final approval of EU nations and the full European Parliament, which is due to sit on March 26 and could approve the measure as soon as then.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; Editing by John Chalmers

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