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IATA: Slot system essential to rebuilding global airline networks
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IATA: Slot system essential to rebuilding global airline networks

Over the last 70 years, a slot allocation system has been developed to manage airline takeoffs and landings at the world’s busiest airports.

But that system is now on hold. Global, blanket slot waivers have been in place since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in the first quarter of 2020.

For the northern hemisphere summer 2021 travel period, however, the across-the-board slot waivers at 170 of the world’s busiest airports will not necessarily be in place.

“The airlines are really dealing with a patchwork approach [regarding slots at airports around the world] this summer,” IATA head of worldwide airport slots Lara Maughan told the Routes Reconnected conference April 26.

She described “three buckets” of approaches airports are taking regarding slots:

  1. Many airports still have full waivers in place.
  2. Another large pool of airports adopted recommendations from slot boards that determined what the rules will be through the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis.
  3. The approach of the European Union, where slot rules will technically be back in force this summer, meaning airlines could lose slots if they do not operate flights at a given airports.

Maughan explained that the EU had hoped airline traffic would be moving in a “much more positive direction” by this summer, alleviating the need for slot waivers. “Unfortunately, that region [the EU] is in one of the worst [COVID-19] situations right now,” she said…

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