The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed its concerns over the premature return to the rules of the use of slots to the levels that were considered normal in the European Union before the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, stressing that this winter, there are still risks that the number of passengers may drop again.
“The evidence so far this summer has not been encouraging. Airports had the 2022 summer season schedules and final slot holdings in January and didn’t evaluate how to manage this in time,” the statement issued by IATA reads, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The comments follow a decision of the European Commission that it intends to return to the old 80-20 slot utilization rule, which requires airlines to operate at least 80 per cent of any scheduled sequence of slots.
According to IATA, airports declaring that full capacity is available and then asking airlines to make cuts this summer also shows that the system is not ready for the revival of “normal” slot use this winter season.
In this regard, IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh pointed out that the chaos that has been created at some airports this summer has occurred with a slot utilization threshold of 64 per cent, adding that airports will not be ready in time to serve an 80 per cent threshold until the end of October.
“It is essential the Member States and Parliament adjust the Commission’s proposal to a realistic level and permit flexibility to the slot use rules. Airports are equal partners in the slot process. Let them demonstrate their ability to declare and manage their capacity accurately and competently and then restore the slot use next summer,” Walsh also noted.
However, contrary to the IATA, the proposal has been welcomed by the International Council of Airports (ACI) Europe on July 13.
Through a statement issued on the same date, ACI Europe emphasized that airlines must use their allocated spaces at the airport 80 per cent of the time to maintain them during the next season.
ACI EUROPE has also shown full support for the Commission’s proposal to extend flexibility through the “justified non-use of electronic games” or JNUS provisions.
In addition, ACI Europe claims that this will still allow airlines to hold airport slots that they cannot use due to remaining travel restrictions in specific markets or the war in Ukraine and related international sanctions.
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