The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has requested aviation regulators around the world to suspend the rules overseeing airport slots for the year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Around 43% of all passengers take flights from approximately 200 slot-coordinated airports around the world.

According to the rules, airlines should operate a minimum of 80% allocated slots. If an airline doesn’t fulfil the condition, it loses its rights for the same slot for the next season.

Regulators can relax the requirements under exceptional circumstances. For example, the recent Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has impacted air traffic with a decrease in global demand.

Compared to last year, air carriers saw a reduction of 26% in their operations.

One company stated that Italian bookings have gone down by 108%, with many cancelling bookings and receiving refunds. Across multiple markets, carriers have also reported around 50% no-shows.

With the reduction of future bookings, carriers have taken measures such as implementing unpaid leave for crew, freezing pay increases and grounding aircraft.

IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “IATA research has shown that traffic has collapsed on key Asian routes and that this is rippling throughout the air transport network globally, even between countries without major outbreaks of Covid-19.

“There are precedents for previous suspension of the slot use rules and we believe the circumstances again calls for a suspension to be granted.  We are calling for regulators worldwide to help the industry plan for today’s emergency, and the future recovery of the network, by suspending the slot use rules on a temporary basis.”