European Parliament transport committee members have backed a draft proposal to suspend the 'use it or lose it' slot regulation this summer, to ease pressure on airlines affected by the economic crisis.

But the committee has refused to allow future revision of the slot-allocation rules to be delegated to the European Commission, without the need for new co-decision legislation.

The 'use it or lose it' regulation requires carriers to surrender slots which are used for less than 80% of the time.

Suspension will enable airlines to retain slots for summer 2010 even if their use during summer 2009 fell below the 80% threshold.

Network airlines have told the transport committee chairman Paolo Costa that the suspension is "absolutely necessary", else they will be forced to operate flights unprofitably just to protect their slots.

But European airport representatives claim the rules are anti-competitive because there are several airlines seeking freed slots at major airports.

Further discussions are planned today between the Parliament, European Commission and European Council, to close an agreement ahead of final approval at a May plenary session.

Committee members also accepted that, should the economic problems affecting airlines continue to worsen over the winter 2009-10 season, further proposals regarding slot allocation for winter 2010-11 could follow.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news