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IATA Requests Global Suspension of Airport Slot Rules in Face of Reduced Demand

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced Monday that they are contacting regulators worldwide to request the suspension of airport slot rules for 2020, due to the COVID-19 impact.

IATA Requests Global Slot Rules Suspension - Photo Credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash

Today, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that they are contacting airport regulators worldwide to request the suspension of slot rules for 2020, due to reduced COVID-19 related demand. Slot rules generally require airlines to operate 80 percent of their allocated slots, or risk losing the slots in the next equivalent season. Since around 43 percent of passengers depart from slot coordinated airports worldwide, the rule suspension will help reduce disruptions when demand normalizes.

Some serious declines in demand cited by IATA include one carrier experiencing a 26% decline across their entire operation, a hub carrier reporting a 108% decline in bookings to Italy, fifty percent no-show passengers across several markets and the softening of future bookings. Considering the current reduction in demand, IATA believes relaxing the 80% slot rule will provide the flexibility for carriers to adjust their schedules appropriately. Although slot rules have been waived on a rolling basis in China and Hong Kong, as the COVID-19 virus spreads to other markets, IATA believes suspending the slot rules until October 2020 will provide clarity, flexibility and certainty. This will allow airlines to efficiently roster crews and deploy aircraft in the coming months. In Monday’s announcement, IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac said,

“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. 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 networks, by suspending the slot the rules on a temporary basis. 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.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents 290 airlines worldwide, which make up around 82 percent of total air traffic.

Source: IATA

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