Airports call for ambitious reform of outdated EU slot allocation regime

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Zaragoza Airport

ACI EUROPE has set out its recommendations for a comprehensive overhaul of the EU Airport Slot Regulation – calling for vital and overdue change in the way airport slot allocation is governed. For the most part, the core principles of existing legislation date back some 27 years and are no longer fit for purpose to promote more efficient operations and more effective competition within the aviation industry for the benefit of consumers.

The trade body’s Position Paper on Airport Slot Allocation is underpinned by a comprehensive study undertaken by independent expert Professor Amedeo Odoni of MIT, which analyses the functioning of the EU Airport Slot Regulation.  Europe accounts for half of the world’s most congested airports1 – and the study estimates that up to 10% of slots at these airports may be going to waste each year. This situation is clearly worsening the capacity crunch and hampering competition – thus limiting air connectivity and passenger choice.

The urgency of a review is heightened by the blocking in Council of a Commission proposal made in 2011, which was intended to update the Regulation for a changed market. In the intervening years, the need for reform has become ever more critical. Capacity shortfalls have built up across the European airport network, with limited prospects for new airport infrastructure developments. This is demonstrated by the entry of Low-Cost Carriers into major airports over the past decade to make use of what capacity does remain, and the growth of the aviation market to an extent that Europe now has several totally saturated airports with no spare capacity.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI EUROPE said: “A regulatory regime based upon what the air transport market looked like 27 years ago is not only anachronistic – it is limiting the ability of airports to pursue more sustainable operations, to develop air connectivity for their communities and to promote airline competition for the benefit of consumers. Indeed, under the current rules, airports have no say in the way in which the very infrastructure they are creating and investing in is being used by airlines. This needs to change and the Position Paper we have published today together with the independent research upon which its conclusions are drawn, clearly show the imperative for reform.”

He added: “Our goals are shared ones. Connectivity, sustainability and consumer choice. We urge the European Commission to pursue an ambitious reform of airport slot allocation rules, and trust that Member States and Parliament will heed this call.“