UK airports and Wizz Air urge reinstatement of airport slot rules amid concern over rising airfares

According to an online YouGov survey commissioned by Gatwick Airport and Wizz Air, more than half (56%) of people surveyed who are planning to fly in the next 12 months are concerned about airfares increasing in the current climate.

More than a quarter (28%) of these people surveyed also said they are concerned about a reduction in the number of destinations they can choose to fly to, and 24% are worried about a reduction in the number of airlines they can fly with.

The survey comes as the UK Government is currently consulting on the slot rules for Summer 2022. Airport slot rules are claimed to aid customers by ensuring competitiveness in the aviation market.

The UK’s slot regulations were understandably suspended during the pandemic; however, Gatwick and Wizz Air are calling for them to be urgently reinstated for Summer 2022 now that passenger numbers are expected to rise significantly following the removal of many travel restrictions. Both Gatwick and Wizz Air recognise the continuing pandemic risks and that borders will be restricted as they have been in response to the Omicrom variant.

Earlier this month, a coalition of UK airports and Wizz Air called for the urgent reinstatement of the previous 80/20 slot regulations – where airlines must use their assigned slots 80 percent of the time, or risk losing them – for the vital summer 2022 season in a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Jonathan Pollard, Chief Commercial Officer, Gatwick Airport, said: ‘It’s interesting that passengers support our view that the existing airport slot rules need to change. Consumers seem to recognise that the slot rules help maximise competition by keeping airfares low while increasing their choice of destinations and airline.

‘Restoring the slot rules would be a clear signal that the UK Government is getting fully behind the recovery of the UK aviation sector. A decision on the summer 2022 slot rules before Christmas would allow the industry to start planning resources for a smooth ramp up of operations as the industry looks to recover from the most difficult period in its history.’

Marion Geoffroy, Managing Director of Wizz Air UK said: ‘Passengers are clearly concerned that air fares will increase if airport slot allocation rules remain the same. The Government has an opportunity to do right by passengers now and reinstate the 80:20 ‘use it or lose it’ rules in time for the summer 2022 season, which will be so crucial to the UK aviation industry’s recovery.’

‘Holiday at Home’ Campaign Fails to Impress

According to a survey, the UK governments GBP3m investment in an advertising campaign to encourage British citizens to ‘Holiday at Home’ has not had the desired impact.

The campaign was intended to help boost the UK’s domestic tourism industry and the greater economy in what are difficult times financially, but the findings of a poll of over 2,000 adults carried out by YouGov on behalf of prepaid currency card provider, Caxton FX, infer that the message has failed to find its mark. Of those polled, two thirds or 67 percent still intend holidaying abroad this summer. 13 percent of people claimed not to have seen the adverts, and 4 percent of people said that the campaign had actually made them less likely to consider a holiday at home.

The most positive response came from the North East and North West regions, where 19 percent of those polled stated that they were now more likely to holiday in the UK. Scotland fared much worse, however, with 9 percent of Scots saying that the advert had made them less likely to take a UK-based holiday.

The managing director Caxton FX, James Hickman said, ‘In spite of substantial investment, it seems that Brits are still committed to holidays abroad and with the pound currently very high against the Euro, holidays abroad can offer good value – especially for those people who would prefer to avoid the Olympics this summer.’

The findings also come at a time when the unusually bad weather that has been sweeping the British Isles is likely to have impacted on the opinions of holidaymakers.