oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance support calls for governments to implement recommendations for slot relief measures for Northern Summer 2021 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 WASB’s proposals deliver a balanced, global approach to preserve international connectivity, maintain consumer choice and aid future industry recovery.

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% of slots, versus the current 80%. 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 CEO 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 65 percent of direct city pairs having vanished in the first half of this year, globally standardised slot use regulations offer airlines clarity and confidence to resume international routes helping rebuild the world’s economy,” said Kristin Colvile, SkyTeam CEO. “As 2021 scheduling gets underway, urgent action is needed to prevent airlines being unfairly penalised for lower demand as they navigate a path to recovery.”

“Travel restrictions around the world continue to create uncertainty that dampens air travel demand, undermining the hard work done to assure customers of hygiene and health safety when they travel, and negatively affecting airline scheduling and fleet utilisation plans”, emphasised Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance. “Governments and authorities must continue to provide layers of support to ensure the sustained recovery of a global air travel industry that makes critical social and economic contributions. The recommendations of the Group to provide relief on the usage of slots are important measures to this end.”

With 58 member airlines, the three global alliances represent over 60% of world airline capacity and prior to the COVID-19 crisis carried over 1.87 billion passengers annually. Since the start of the pandemic, they have joined forces to urge industry-wide action on airport slot relief, call for governments to adopt globally harmonised testing and health technology, and to reassure consumers on the safety of air travel.