The world’s three major global airline alliances — oneworld, Sky Team, and Star Alliance — are banding together to ask governments for support during the COVID-19 pandemic by suspending slot usage rules through the northern summer season, and offering other financial support.
Together, these alliances represent nearly 60 airlines and hold more than half of global airline capacity and are all experiencing “extraordinary reductions” in passenger demand.
Citing the economic stresses that the industry faces as passenger movement around the world slows nearly to a halt, particularly as the U.S. extends its travel bans from Schengen countries to the U.K. and Ireland, the alliances urged governments around the world “to prepare for the broad economic effects” and consider “all possible means to assist the airline industry.”
“Governments must implement the measures they consider necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19, and must be prepared for the widescale economic implications that will result from those measures,” said oneworld CEO Rob Gurney.
Those implications include a high potential of job losses around the world. As ICAO reports, aviation supports around 65.5 million people through direct and indirect employment.
“The human and financial impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the aviation industry is unprecedented,” said SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director Kristin Colvile.
Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh added that the coronavirus crisis poses “an existential threat not only to the airline industry but more generally to global trade and commerce, and social connectivity.”
The three global alliances member airlines have taken measures in recent days—and even in recent hours—to adjust to demand that is changing more rapidly than the wind. Moves include significant capacity reductions, to near grounding, various cash conservation and cost-saving initiatives, staff lay-offs, enhanced cleaning procedures, and additional customer support.
The airline alliances also urged airport operators “to evaluate landing charges and fees,” but airports themselves are facing financial pressures with billions in lost revenues as passengers stay home.