The world’s three largest airline alliances have called on governments and stakeholders to take action “to alleviate the unprecedented challenges faced by the global airline industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic”.

In a rare move, Oneworld, Skyteam and Star Alliance issued a joint statement in which they said they are “strongly supporting a request by the International Air Transport Association for regulators to suspend slot usage rules for the northern summer 2020 season as the airline industry suffers from extraordinary reductions in passenger demand”.

The three alliances represent almost 60 carriers worldwide, with member carriers accounting for over 60 per cent of scheduled global airline traffic.

The joint statement said that “The alliances welcome the moves in recent days by some regulators who have suspended slot regulations temporarily and urge others to follow suit promptly”.

“They also request that regulators consider extending the suspensions for the entire operating season.”

“The impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry is significant, with IATA estimating up to US$113 billion in revenue losses for global passenger airlines. The impact is expected to have a ripple effect through the value chain that supports the airline industry.

“The forecasted revenue loss scenario does not include travel restrictions recently imposed by the US and other governments. US restrictions on passengers from the Schengen Area will place pressure on the US-Schengen market, valued at over US$ 20 billion in 2019.

“To alleviate the immense pressures faced by airlines in the current operating environment, and in support of IATA’s statement on 12 March, the three alliances urge governments worldwide to prepare for the broad economic effects from actions taken by states to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to evaluate all possible means to assist the airline industry during this unprecedented period.

“The alliances also call on other stakeholders to provide support. For example, airport operators are urged to evaluate landing charges and fees to mitigate the financial pressure faced by airlines due to a severe decline in passenger demand.”

Rob Guerney, the CEO of Oneworld – of which the UK’s flag carrier British Airways is a founding member – said:

“During such times of difficulty and uncertainty, it is important that the airline industry works even closer with stakeholders to mitigate adverse impacts from the virus and collaborate in areas within our control.

“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.”

International Airlines Group today confirmed that its chief executive Willie Walsh is to delay his planned retirement, as the group set out plans to reduce capacity and cut costs in the light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read Business Traveller’s latest coverage of how coronavirus is impacting the aviation and hotel industry.,,