Wizz Air (W6, Budapest) has appealed to the European Commission to end the suspension of the "use it or lose it" rule governing slots at the bloc's airports as it "hinders its development".

"I call on the European Commission to end the 80-20 slot-waiver regulation for all airlines in Europe as of October 25 and support the recovery of the aviation sector and the associated industries by allowing genuine market conditions to prevail," Chief Executive József Váradi wrote.

Not hiding his ambitions to take over some of these slots, Váradi argued that the proposed extension of the rule waiver through March 2021 would protect "incumbent airlines with weak business models" and hinder those which are "ready to take up new market opportunities", such as Wizz Air.

"An extension of the waiver would be irrational and anti-competitive and would hinder rather than help the recovery of the EU aviation industry... Furthermore, this would adversely affect the economies of the cities served by those airports, as the airports would suffer a shortfall in passenger numbers, reducing everything from their own employment requirements to local supply chains," Váradi went on.

In March this year, the European Union suspended the "use it or lose it" rule, which normally mandates that a slot be taken away from an airline if not used on 20% or more days during one IATA season. The move was ostensibly to prevent airlines from running environmentally and commercially wasteful "ghost flights" with no passengers solely for the purpose of maintaining the minimum slot usage threshold.

While the suspension is currently valid through the end of the Summer 2020 season, European lobby group Airlines for Europe (A4E) appealed in late June to extend the waiver through at least the end of the Winter 2020/21 season and possibly even through July 2021. The association's Chairman and the Chief Executive of Air France-KLM, Ben Smith, recently reaffirmed this appeal, stating that the built-up portfolios of slots were "the bedrock" of the airlines' business models and the foundation for their long-term fleet and network planning.

While Wizz Air's largest rival LCCs Ryanair (FR, Dublin International) and easyJet (London Luton) are members of the A4E, the Hungarian carrier itself is not a member of either A4E or any other bloc-wide lobby group.