Wizz Air UK (W9, London Luton) is lobbying the British government to change slot allocation rules following the end of the post-Brexit transition period at the end of 2020 in order to scoop more slots at London Gatwick, Managing Director Owain Jones told The Mail on Sunday.

The British subsidiary of Wizz Air has long eyed slots at Gatwick, which are currently held, but not used, by rivals such as Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) and easyJet (U2, London Luton). Full-service carrier British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) also uses only a fraction of its allocated slots at the airport, while Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) has suspended all of its flights from the airport. In normal times, these slots would have been stripped from the airlines. However, the European Commission - which still governs the UK slot regime during the transition period - recently extended the suspension of the "use it or lose it" rule through the end of March 2021.

Jones underlined that these rules have effectively prevented Wizz Air, which has continued to aggressively expand despite the pandemic, from growing at Gatwick in contrast to carriers that have trimmed their networks.

He stressed that Wizz Air UK could immediately take around 20 of the 110 weekly slot pairs at Gatwick currently not used by other airlines.

"These slots are important for economic recovery. Connectivity by air is going to be extremely important as we come out the other side, both of COVID-19 and post-Brexit. Those assets need to be used for the national good and made available for airlines that can afford to operate," he said.

Wizz Air UK is trying to convince the government to, effectively, nationalise slots and allocate the unused ones anew.

The low-cost carrier recently launched a base at Gatwick but bases only a single A321-200 at the airport. It also has bases at London Luton and Doncaster/Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

According to a recent coordination report, Wizz Air has secured 170 weekly slots at Gatwick for the Winter 2020/21 season, only 40% of its requested slots. While Wizz Air UK's success rate was much higher - it secured 92.9% of requested slots - it has just 26 weekly slots. In comparison, Virgin Atlantic, which does not currently fly to Gatwick, holds 65 weekly slots, and Norwegian - 508.