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Coronavirus: IATA asks regulators to suspend airport slot rules


New Delhi: Airline body, the International Air Transport Association, on Monday called upon global aviation regulators to immediately suspend the rules governing the use of airport slots for the 2020 season, due to the impact of coronavirus.

According to IATA, around 43 per cent of all passengers depart from over 200 slots coordinated airports worldwide.

At present, the rules governing the use the airport slots provide that airlines must operate at least 80 per cent 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," IATA said in a statement on Monday.

However, in exceptional circumstances, regulators can relax this requirement.

"The COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on air traffic. Airlines are experiencing serious declines in demand," the statement said.

"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 per cent rule during the upcoming season" is inappropriate, the IATA said.

Currently, regulators have been waiving the slot rules on a rolling basis during the COVID-19 crisis primarily for operations to China and Hong Kong SAR.

"However, given the recent further outbreaks, this is no longer contained to the Asian markets. Without certainty that these waivers will continue for the summer season, airlines are unable to plan ahead sufficiently to ensure efficient rostering of crew or deployment of aircraft," the statement said.

"Suspending the requirement for the entire season (to October 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."

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