The move comes after Virgin Atlantic admitted it was continuing to operate flights with few passengers in order to hang on its slots at busy airports.
The European commission president Ursula von der Leyen, said she feared the situation for the aviation industry would only worsen in coming days and weeks as travel restrictions are imposed on more and more countries.
“The coronavirus outbreak has a major impact on the European and international aviation industry,” she said. “We see that the situation is deteriorating on a daily basis, and traffic is expected to decline further. And this is why the commission will put forward very rapidly legislation regarding the so-called airport slots.”
She said the EU would introduce a ‘temporary measure’ aimed at helping the industry and the environment.
“We want to make it easier for airlines to keep their airport slot, even if they do not operate flights in those slots, because of the declining traffic,” she added.
“It will relieve the pressure on the aviation industry and in particular on smaller airline companies, but it will also decrease emissions by avoiding the so called ghost flights. When airlines fly, almost empty planes, simply to keep that slot.”
However, Von der Leyen did not give a timeframe for the rule change, which requires approval of EU ministers and the EU Parliament.