Aviation

Global airline alliances team up to urge relaxation on slot usage rules

The three major airline alliances are calling on governments and stakeholders to help the aviation industry survive the COVID-19 pandemic by “all possible means”.

oneworld, SkyTeam and Sky Alliance, which represent almost 60 airlines around the world that contribute to more than half of global airline capacity have thrown their support behind the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s request for regulators to suspend slot usage rules.

On March 3 IATA called on airline regulators around the world to suspend rules governing the use of airport slots for the 2020 season in light of the reduced number of flyers as a result of the virus.

According to the association, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80 per cent of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. Failure to comply with this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season.

The impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry is expected to be significant, with IATA estimating up to $185 billion in revenue losses for global passenger airlines. The impact is expected to have a ripple effect through the value chain that supports the airline industry and forecasted revenue loss scenario does not include travel restrictions recently imposed by governments around the world. 

The three alliances are urging governments to prepare for the broad economic effects from actions taken by states to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to “evaluate all possible means” to assist the airline industry during this period. 

The alliances have also called on other stakeholders to provide support, asking airport operators to evaluate landing charges and fees to mitigate the financial pressure faced by airlines due to a severe decline in passenger demand.

“The human and financial impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the aviation industry is unprecedented,” SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director Kristin Colvile said.

“SkyTeam, with its alliance partners, and on behalf of member airlines, is urging all involved institutions and industry stakeholders to face these extraordinary times with exceptional measures.”

Airlines are implementing urgent measures to address the impact of COVID-19 by significantly cutting capacity of up to 90 per cent in some cases, as well as introducing cost-saving initiatives like nixing executive bonuses and asking staff to take voluntary leave.

Featured image credit: iStock.com/Jetlinerimages

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