European Aviation Industry Asks for Slot-Waiver Extension
- A coalition of European airline and aviation groups is calling on the European Commission (EC) to waive use-it-or-lose-it rules for slots at constrained airports. The groups, which include IATA, Airports Council International-Europe, and Airlines for Europe, are asking for the EC to waive the rules for the winter schedule season, extending the current waiver, which was put into place when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Before the original waiver occurred, airlines were flying empty aircraft to slot constrained airports in order to maintain their slots. The industry groups think an extension would prevent that from recurring.
- Two of Lufthansa’s key airport hubs shared their thoughts on the crisis. Zurich Airport, home of Swiss, sees a modest traffic recovery that began in June but doesn’t see full recovery before 2023. That said, it thinks Switzerland’s airline sector could recover faster than average, thanks to the financial strength of Swiss, which also helpfully doesn’t have any of the B747s or A380s airlines are eager to dump. Zurich is also a shorthaul heavy airport with three-quarters of all traffic going elsewhere in Europe.
Vienna airport, meanwhile, stressed the high uncertainty that clouds the remainder of 2020, adding that 2018 and 2019 were both exceptionally strong years for traffic growth. The LCCs responsible for that growth, like Ryanair’s Lauda unit and Wizz Air, should again be helpful in the recovery. Like other European airports, it saw a mini-revival of leisure demand to sunshine destinations this summer. Longhaul traffic is still near zero, and that’s also depressing transfer traffic.
At the time of its earnings call last month, Vienna airport said European airlines were typically running load factors between 40% and 55%, compared to 75% to 95% in normal times. And this fall? “It’s still difficult to say how September [and] October would be like because more or less every day, the travel restrictions are changing.”
- Ethiopian Airlines proudly showcased a new terminal it opened at Addis Ababa airport, highlighting its distinction as the first new terminal debuting in the post-Covid era. That means particular attention to biosecurity and biosafety. Ethiopian is hardly immune to the financial devastation currently pervading the industry. But it’s not giving up on its longterm plan to dominate African aviation, both within and beyond. In fact, the airline claims that Addis Ababa surpassed Dubai last year to become the world’s largest gateway to Africa.
Ethiopian — remember this when contemplating its success — is more than just an airline. It has six major business units in fact, the others being maintenance, aviation training, airport services, airport ground handling, and cargo, the latter a lone light in this time of darkness.
Separately, Bloomberg reports that Ethiopian is talking to South Africa about perhaps investing in its bankrupt national airline SAA.