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Improving Airport Performance

​IATA Policy Guide for Airport Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Before developing a Service Level Agreement in any industry or business relationship, one must first define who the provider is, and who is the customer it provides for? When it comes to the airports, this customer definition prerequisite could be even more necessary.

One could argue that the airport’s immediate customers are the airlines – or the users. But one can also argue that the ultimate customer both the airports and the airlines serve are the passengers (and the cargo customers as well). However, the one argument that no one would challenge is that airports and airlines are business partners with the mutual interest in performing efficiently and with the highest service quality.

Hence, IATA’s Airports Working Group (AWG) has developed a global policy to provide airline users and airports with a guide to developing best practice Airport Service Level Agreements (SLA). The purpose of the SLA guidelines is to provide airports with a clear understanding of the formal levels of service and outcomes required to meet airline user's needs in return for the airport charges they pay, while recognizing airlines and airports are business partners with a joint interest in delivering airport performance that in turn benefits their common customers – the passengers and cargo clients.

The SLA policy Objectives

  • Establishing a formal framework for key operational standards.
  • Delivering consistent levels of service.
  • Incentivizing airports to perform.
  • Promoting continuous improvement.

Scope of SLA Framework

  • Passenger experience, operational standards and asset availability, including :
    • Processing facilities
    • Passenger experience measures
    • Asset availability for passenger and operational equipment
    • Critical service requirements
    • Asset fault reporting
  • How levels of service will be measured in consultation with users to deliver a consistent service and continuous improvements.
  • An explanation that the purpose of the Airport SLA is not financial gain, however, it may include an incentive mechanism to guard against airport non-performance on the basis users' costs do not increase.

SLA Key Features

  • In principle the Airport SLAs should measures airport rather than airline performance.
  • Measurement should focus on objective, quantitative standards, rather than perception based measures wherever possible.
  • Follow the “user pays” principle.

In terms of the Engagement, IATA understands the challenges the airline community can face when attempting to implement SLAs with airports.  This Airport SLA framework is designed to be jointly introduced within a spirit of cooperation and collaboration between airline and airports between business partners. It is a tool that airlines and airports can use to support their mutual interests.

Specific levels of service, measurement and incentives can vary from airport to airport, and are therefore best determined at an individual level.  The SLA policy Appendix does however provide information on IATA Levels of Service and airport examples where public information is available.  For more information you may check out the The SLA Best Practice Guidance document (pdf), or you may contact IATA Country Manager closer to your location, and we’d be glad to assist and serve you.

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