The Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Ltd (GACL), Yaw Kwakwa says GACL is going to suspend the slot rules to allow airlines more flexibility in adjusting their schedules as the spread of the coronavirus impacts demand for air transport.

This is in line with demand by the International Air Transport Association for aviation regulators worldwide to suspend the rules governing the use of airport slots immediately and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of COVID-19.

From flight cancellations to low bookings and flying close to empty aircrafts the airline industry has seen a drastic hit from the coronavirus outbreak which the International Air Transport Association has estimated to erode close to $30 billion of the revenues of the industry.

At present, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80% of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. Failure to comply with this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season except under exceptional circumstances.

However, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, many carriers are reporting 50% no-shows across several markets due to a cut down of routes and a slump in flight bookings.

To this end, the International Air transport Association called for the suspension of the slot rules to help the airline as they make an adjustment.

Mr Kwakwa has been telling JoyBusiness they will comply as the aviation industry plays its role in containing the spread.

He “various airlines are cutting down flights because of fear of spreading the disease and that is quite understood. So we cannot use that to penalize the Airlines in the next season. “

Mr Kwakwa added, “And when you observe well it’s not just one airline but a number of them are making the changes. So we don’t have a choice than to comply because the industry is trying to protect itself from being the main cause of the spread of the disease. “

A slot is permission by an airport operator for an airline to land a plane as well as take off at a specific airport at a designated time.

Suspending the requirement for the entire season will mean that airlines can respond to market conditions with appropriate capacity levels, avoiding any need to run empty services in order to maintain slots.