IATA welcomes slot suspension

GENEVA, 17 March 2020: The International Air Transport Association welcomed the announcement by the European Commission (EC) to grant the temporary suspension of the 80-20 “use it or lose it” rule on airport slots until June. 

It said the decision reflects the unprecedented situation facing the airline industry, but IATA warned that granting the suspension only until June was the very minimum the industry needs.

IATA is pressing for a  full-suspension until October a decision urgently needed for the airlines to plan their schedules.

Owing to the requirement that airlines must operate an airport slot for at least 80% of the time, airlines have been unable to respond by adjusting their capacity, forcing them to fly near-empty planes.

The suspension of the slot use rules until June will allow airlines to begin putting in place measures to cope with the unprecedented fall in traffic, but it is a shorter period than airlines had requested.

 IATA wants the suspension extended to cover the whole season (to October) following the lead of regulators in other regions.

It is now asking the EC to review the extension request by 15 April.

Given all the uncertainties, it is disappointing that the decision does not cover the full season,” said IATA’s regional vice president for Europe, Rafael Schvartzman.

Airlines have been among the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. IATA estimates that airline revenues could fall by USD113 billion (19%) if the virus is not contained (this estimate was made before the announcement of the restrictions to travellers inbound to the United States from the Schengen area).