Global airline alliances oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance have jointly called on governments and stakeholders to take action to alleviate the unprecedented challenges faced by the global airline industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three alliances, which represent almost 60 airlines around the world that contribute more than half of global airline capacity, are strongly supporting the request previously made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for regulators to suspend slot usage rules for the northern summer 2020 season as the airline industry suffers from extraordinary reductions in passenger demand.
The alliances said that they welcome the moves in recent days by some regulators, such as the European Commission and the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who have suspended slot regulations temporarily and urge others to follow suit. They also request that regulators consider extending the suspensions for the entire operating season.
The impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry is, indeed, significant, with IATA estimating up to $113 billion in revenue losses for global passenger airlines. The impact is expected to have a ripple effect through the value chain that supports the airline industry. The forecasted revenue loss scenario does not include travel restrictions recently imposed by the US and other governments. US restrictions on passengers from the Schengen Area will place pressure on the US-Schengen market, valued at over $20 billion in 2019.
SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director Kristin Colvile said: “The human and financial impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the aviation industry is unprecedented. SkyTeam, with its alliance partners, and on behalf of member airlines, is urging all involved institutions and industry stakeholders to face these extraordinary times with exceptional measures. This includes action such as slot relief, airport and overflight fees reduction.”
To alleviate the immense pressures faced by airlines in the current operating environment, and in support of IATA’s statement on 12 March, the three alliances urge governments worldwide to prepare for the broad economic effects from actions taken by states to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to evaluate all possible means to assist the airline industry during this unprecedented period.
The alliances also call on other stakeholders to provide support. For example, airport operators are urged to evaluate landing charges and fees to mitigate the financial pressure faced by airlines due to a severe decline in passenger demand.
Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh added: “The unprecedented circumstances triggered by the coronavirus outbreak pose an existential threat not only to the airline industry but more generally to global trade and commerce, and social connectivity. As airlines stretch their limits to manage the crisis, it is equally critical for governments and stakeholders to avoid further burdens and step up with measures, as some have, that will ensure the future of the travel industry.”
Member airlines of the three global alliances have implemented urgent measures to address the impact of COVID-19, such as very significant capacity reductions, cost-saving initiatives, enhanced cleaning procedures and customer support outreach.
While airlines are responding proactively to mitigate further impact in face of rapidly-changing policy scenarios, it is imperative they are supported by governments and stakeholders who can play a vital role in alleviating the unprecedented pressures faced by global airlines amid these extremely challenging times.