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IATA Starts Legal Action to End Netherlands’ Slot Rule

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has initiated legal action in the Netherlands in order to prevent the implementation of a new time slot assignment policy rule, which could harm the time slot assignment operating system globally and cause commercial harm to IATA personnel.

According to an IATA statement, the rule was implemented through the coordination of slots in the Netherlands, ACNL, to become effective for the summer season next year.

In addition, the rule sets out a list of priority destinations for slots at three busy Dutch airports – Amsterdam Schiphol, Eindhoven, Rotterdam and The Hague – which, according to the IATA, violate EU regulation on the Common Rules for Community Air Services and slot EU regulation in several aspects, according to reports.

The Air Transport Association claimed that the rule was not adequately implemented while asserting that ACNL applied it unilaterally without consulting the parties involved, as required by EU law.

“The application of the rule in time slot assignment decisions compromises the role of independent and neutral slot coordinators under EU law, and instead requires that the decision-making be prioritized for the list of destinations. This is what IATA Deputy Director General Conrad Clifford said. The coordinator renders the airport server against the airlines and the consumer.

Furthermore, Clifford said the slot allocation process should serve the needs of consumers who want more cargo or transportation reliably, highlighting that airlines should design schedules that meet consumer demand, not the desires of infrastructure providers.

In addition, it was emphasized that the rule undermines the systematic development of air delivery. The Royal Schiphol Group ignored important principles of slot customization, such as providing consumers with a choice of services and products and encouraging competitive markets.

“Removing decision-making power from the fair and unbiased global opening process and placing it in the hands of the airport would therefore be detrimental to the development of efficient air connectivity with negative implications for individual consumers, businesses and ultimately the Dutch economy,” the IATA statement reads.

Furthermore, IATA has indicated that the rule poses a significant risk to the neutral role of time slot coordinators in the EU. Implementation of the WASG guidelines in line with the law currently in force is one of the basic principles of coordination as long as there is independence and impartiality in its implementation. However, this rule is contrary to both EU law and WASG.

Previously, the International Air Transport Association urged governments to end COVID-19 travel restrictions because these rules hamper the restoration of air transport while criticizing the lack of agreement between countries.

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