FAA extends slot-use waiver for international flights at seven airports

The FAA will continue to waive slot-use requirements for international operations at seven U.S. airports through March 26 of next year. 

The pandemic-related waiver had been set to end on Oct. 30. The waiver applies to international flights from New York Kennedy, New York LaGuardia, Washington Reagan, Newark, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.

The FAA regulates daily departure and landing slots at capacity constrained airports. Airlines that own such slots are normally required to use them at least 80% of the time or risk losing them. However, the agency has suspended that requirement since early in the pandemic due to the extraordinary disruption Covid-19 has caused to air travel. 

  • Related: EU establishes slot quota for winter flights

In its decision to extend the waiver through the winter, the agency stated that airlines shouldn’t assume the exemptions will continue beyond then. But the FAA added that the pandemic continues to present an unpredictable and unusual condition for international travel. 

“Indeed, foreign carriers in many parts of the world are prevented from operating to the United States due to governmental restrictions resulting from Covid-19,” the agency said. “The continuing impacts of Covid-19 on global aviation are dramatic and extraordinary, with an unprecedented decrease in passenger demand for international air travel globally.”

Conversely, the FAA said that demand and U.S. vaccination counts have reached a level that no longer justifies domestic slot relief. 

The waiver on international slot usage applies to foreign and domestic carriers, but the FAA added that it expects reciprocal relief from other countries and may decide not to grant a waiver to airlines from countries that don’t reciprocate.

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