Airline alliances call for government support during Coronavirus crisis

Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance. Photo: © Eric Salard

The three major global airline alliances, Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, are calling on governments and investors for ‘extraordinary’ support for the airline industry.

A joint publication by the alliances, on behalf of their 58 member airlines, was posted on Monday.

This comes amid the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, that led to international travel restrictions and significantly reduced demand around the world. Most airlines have been forced to suspend large part of their operations and some, including Austrian Airlines, AirBaltic and LOT, have even shut down completely for a limited period of time during this crisis.

The alliances are asking governments around the world to ‘evaluate all possible means’ to assist airlines that are facing serious trouble. With that, Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance are supporting a statement by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) from March 12, that was responding to the new travel restrictions imposed by the United States government. The IATA stated, governments must prepare for the ‘broad economic consequences of these actions’ and quickly respond to airlines in financial need.

Furthermore, IATA and the alliances are urging responsible authorities to suspend slot rules, which regulate takeoff and landing rights for airlines at larger or congested airports, until the end of the summer season (October). These rules typically say that an airline has to operate any given slot at least 80 percent of the time, or risk losing it (“use it or lose it”). The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has waived these regulations until the end of May. Meanwhile, a proposal to suspend slot rules in the European Union’s aviation market until June 30 is still waiting for approval.

The alliances welcome the moves in recent days by some regulators who have suspended slot regulations temporarily and urge others to follow suit promptly. They also request that regulators consider extending the suspensions for the entire operating season.Airline alliances joint statement

On March 5, the IATA had estimated that the global airline industry could lose US $113 billion in revenue due to Coronavirus and its effects on worldwide travel. At the time of the estimate, there were no significant travel restrictions, apart from mainland China. The number is therefore likely to grow.

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