IATA Calls For Suspension Of Airport Slot Rules During Crisis

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Alexandrede Juniac

IATA is contacting aviation regulators worldwide to request that the rules governing use of airport slots be suspended immediately and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of COVID-19.

Around 43% of all passengers depart from over 200 slot coordinated airports worldwide. 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 this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season. In exceptional circumstances, regulators can relax this requirement. IATA says the situation is exceptional as the COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on air traffic. Airlines are experiencing serious declines in demand. Including:


  • A carrier experiencing a 26% reduction across its entire operation in comparison to last year.
  • A hub carrier reporting bookings 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.  

“Given these extraordinary circumstances as a result of the public health emergency, the collective view of the airline industry is that the application the 80% rule during the upcoming season inappropriate,” IATA said in a statement. “Flexibility is needed for airlines to adjust their schedules according to extraordinary demand developments.” 

The airline organization says that suspending the requirement for the entire season (to OCT 2020) will mean that airlines can respond to market conditions with appropriate capacity levels, avoiding any need to run empty services in order to maintain slots. Aircraft can be reallocated to other routes or parked and crew can have certainty on their schedules.

“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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. 

“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.“

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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