Airline alliances support global slot relief measures | News

oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance have called for governments to implement recommendations for slot relief measures for northern summer 2021.

The call was issued by the Worldwide Airport Slot Board (WASB), comprising Airports Council International (ACI World), IATA, and the Worldwide Airport Coordinators Group (WWACG).

As the pandemic continues to impact air travel, the three global alliances believe the proposals deliver a balanced, global approach to preserve international connectivity, maintain consumer choice and aid future industry recovery.

However, critics argue the measures are anti-competitive, allowing financially weaker airlines to maintain an otherwise unsustainable position.

The alliances support WASB’s three core recommendations that take into account the differing impact on airlines and varying airport business models.

oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance urge governments to enact these recommendations by the end of 2020, including:

  • A lower use-it-or-lose-it threshold: Allowing airlines to use 50 per cent of slots, versus the current 80 per cent. This gives them flexibility to right-size schedules, helping their finances – and the environment – by not operating at greater capacity when demand is lower.
  • Alleviation for the return of a full series of slots: Giving incumbent airlines the right to operate slots in summer 2022, while allowing new carriers access for summer 2021. This maintains connectivity for customers wanting to fly between city pairs, offering greater consumer choice. Airlines that return a full series of slots by early February to be permitted to retain the right to operate them in summer 2022.
  • Clearly defining the justified non-use of slots: Removing penalties for airlines if they are unable to operate due to government travel restrictions, which are often imposed or removed at short notice, to ensure fair and consistent protocols at both ends of the route.

oneworld chief executive, Rob Gurney, said: “With travel restrictions remaining in many parts of the world, airlines continue to be placed in difficult circumstances when planning their schedules to align with restrictions that often change quickly with little notice, impacting customer confidence.

“The industry recommendations for slot relief measures will provide fairness and clarity to airlines while maintaining connectivity.”

With 58 member airlines, the three global alliances represent over 60 per cent of world airline capacity and prior to the Covid-19 crisis carried over 1.87 billion passengers annually.

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