Single European Sky role for airport slot chiefs

Slot coordinators may have a role to play in the Single European Sky, according to a new report commissioned by the European Commission (EC).
According to EC analysis, better use of airport slots could bring economic benefits worth more than 5bn euros (£4.4bn) in the period 2012-2025.
The EC plans to introduce legislation within months to address the problem of airport congestion in Europe.
The EU study says the problem of limited capacity is likely to worsen because many busy airports, including London Heathrow and Paris Orly, do not plan to expand.
The study, by an independent transport planning consultancy, looked at 15 European airports, including the most congested ones, and involved key stakeholders.
It focuses on the way airport slots are allocated to airlines – a job done by co-ordinators using various criteria, including “historic preference” – a custom that favours traditional airlines.
The report says that any future Network
Manager – as envisaged under Single European Sky plans – will need information on schedules from all European airports in order to
plan air traffic management capacity.
“In principle this could be provided by the
coordinators, as they already collect extensive data covering most significant
European airports,” the report states.
It does point ut however that in most States coordinators currently do not have powers to collect data for airports which are neither coordinated nor schedule facilitated (Level One airports).
“If the Regulation is amended, the coordinators should be given the powers necessary to collect this data for Level One airports, if the Network Manager in the future requests that they do so,” advise the report authors.
They add that this would also help emergency short-term coordination of an airport, which the Regulation allows for and which could be useful in some exceptional circumstances (for example during the volcanic ash crisis).
“This would need to be accompanied by measures to ensure that sanctions could applied to airlines that did not provide this information when required to do so, or did not provide accurate information,” the report concludes.
The report recommends secondary trading of airport slots EU-wide, based on current practice at London airports.
Secondary trading means airlines can sell slots if they cannot use them efficiently. But the study recognises that in some cases, airlines do not have an incentive to do so.
The study also finds that it is difficult for new market entrants to grow operations at congested airports because few slots change hands there.
Across the EU, there are also big differences in the penalties imposed for misuse of slots, the study says.
The EC calls for greater transparency in the way slots are used and a stricter usage threshold, to ensure that slots are not wasted while other carriers want them.
Read the report at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air/studies/doc/airports/2011-03-impact-assessment-revisions-regulation-95-93.pdf