IATA in Geneva warns of continued disruption at airports this winter
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva has warned that the summer travel chaos seen in airports across Europe could continue into the autumn and winter. The association said that European Union plans to reimplement mandatory minimum flights will be the main source of disruption.
IATA in Geneva warns of travel chaos this winter
In a statement, IATA - the association that represents 290 airlines around the world including SWISS and the Lufthansa Group - said it was deeply concerned that the current chaos at airports in Switzerland, the Netherlands and others could continue to affect passengers long after the school summer holidays are over. They warned that the European Union's plan to reimplement the so-called 80-20 slot rule for flights will create massive disruption for passengers.
The law, created by the European Union and enforced by the Swiss government, states that airlines must use the takeoff and landing slots they are given by airports 80 percent of the time. If airlines fail to provide the minimum number of flights, their “slot pair” is given to the next airline on the waiting list.
During COVID, the European Union and Switzerland suspended the rule so that airlines would not have to run empty flights to keep their slot pairs. However, the EU has now announced that it would be returning to the 80-20 rule from October 2022, with the alpine nation following suit.
Airlines and airports blame each other for the disruption
This has sparked alarm among airlines, who say that due to staff shortages, they are still unable to offer an 80 percent service. According to Watson, airports have privately accused airlines of selling too many flights in early 2022, with one aviation insider telling the news site that "many airlines could not currently handle additional capacity because they have too few crew members."
In response, IATA blamed airports for being unable to cope with the high number of flights. Head of IATA Willie Walsh said that current flight capacity is at 64 percent because of the disruption at airports and that he “fears that some airports will not be able to serve the 80 percent threshold in time by the end of October."
If an 80 percent service isn’t resumed by then, airlines risk losing their right to land and take-off at some airports, causing mass cancellations and disruption for travellers. IATA called on the EU to create a more realistic timetable for returning to full capacity and to be more flexible when regulating slot pairs.