Coronavirus: International Air Transport Association requests airports to suspend rule governing airport slots for 2020

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has requested airports across the world to suspend the rules governing airport slots for the entire 2020 season.

The move, according to the association, should be operated despite the spread of the coronavirus (CONVID-19) in the world.

At present, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80% of their allocated slots under normal circumstances.

Failure to comply with the directive means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season.

The Director-General and CEO of the IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, who disclosed the directive noted that the COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on air traffic which has necessitated the action.

“IATA research has shown that traffic has collapsed on key Asian routes and that this is rippling throughout the air transport network globally, even between countries without major outbreaks of COVID-19,” he said.

Adding that “There are precedents for previous suspension of the slot use rules, and we believe the circumstances again calls for a suspension to be granted. We are calling for regulators worldwide to help the industry plan for today’s emergency, and the future recovery of the network, by suspending the slot use rules on a temporary basis.”

Alexandre de Juniac further said, “The world is facing a huge challenge to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while enabling the global economy to continue functioning. Airlines are on the front line of that challenge and it’s essential that the regulatory community work with us to ensure airlines are able to operate in the most sustainable manner, both economically and environmentally, to alleviate the worst impacts of the crisis.”

Negative impacts of the coronavirus on airlines:

The negative impact the virus has had on airlines according to IATA included:

  • A carrier experiencing a 26% reduction across their entire operation in comparison to last year
  • A hub carrier reporting booking to Italy down 108% as bookings collapse to zero and refunds grow
  • Many carriers reporting 50% no-shows across several markets
  • Future bookings are softening and carriers are reacting with measures such as crew being given unpaid leave, freezing of pay increases, and plans for aircraft to be grounded.
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