The progressive reinstatement of airport slot usage requirements, by which airport slots allocated to airlines should either be used or be made available for reallocation to other airlines, remains an essential condition for the recovery of aviation.
Air transport demand and the ability to travel remain significantly impeded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. The aviation industry proposes a common path to ensure that slot alleviation measures continue to protect essential airport connectivity, support the restoration of traffic, and enable airlines to respond to new patterns of demands.
Consequently, the Worldwide Airport Slot Board (WASB) built on its WASB Recommendation: Airport slot alleviation for Northern Summer 2021 season and issued a follow-up Recommendation for the upcoming Northern Winter 2021.
The WASB is the body tasked with developing global slot rules. It comprises a total of 21 representatives, with equal numbers from the airport, airline, and slot coordination communities.
The premise of the WASB Recommendation is that different countries and regions are recovering at different rates. Accordingly, some jurisdictions have already decided on the specific slot alleviation measures they will implement in the Winter season in response to their local circumstances. In several other instances, regulatory authorities are waiting to see how the health situation will evolve before defining their approach.
Taking stock of the above and noting that a majority of regulators are looking at WASB guidance when incepting slot policies, the Worldwide Airport Slot Board recommends to regulators who may wish to extend the WASB Northern Summer 21 airport slot alleviation measures to consider the following conditions, which includes improvements to address the issues experienced by the industry in the past months:
The WASB Recommendation recognizes that regulatory authorities may adapt the content of these measures to the circumstances and needs of their local market and specifies that implementation is subject to local legal approval.
While the Northern Winter season is still months away, planning by airport operators and airlines is well under way. As per the WASG Calendar of Coordination Activities, the capacity airport operators will provide and initial requests for slots in the Winter season had to be completed in the first half of May. As such, the timely adoption of a regulatory approach for the upcoming Northern Winter 2021 season is necessary to respond to the aviation industry’s need for regulatory certainty.