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EU Clarifies Airport Slot Rules

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

12 May 2008

The European Commission recently adopted a Communication which clarifies a number of issues in order to ensure a better implementation of the existing aircraft slot rules, and to improve the efficient use of scarce capacity at congested Community airports.

In particular, the Communication, adopted by the EC on 30th April, signals the acceptance of "secondary trading" of airport slots between air carriers.

Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, commented that: "At crowded airports, we need to make sure that slots are used as efficiently as possible and that airlines have a fair chance to develop their operations. Slots at airports must be distributed in a fair and non-discriminatory way."

"Today we are recognising for the first time that secondary trading is an acceptable way of allowing slots to be swapped among airlines."

He added: "We will keep a close eye on the situation across Europe and ensure that secondary trading works to the advantage of consumers, but this system has already shown its value in London, where it has allowed a range of airlines to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the EU-US aviation agreement and to create new levels of competition."

The Communication states the Commission’s views with regard to the implementation of the Regulation in a number of areas in which stakeholders have experienced particular difficulties.

The Communication draws from – and elaborates on - the Commission’s, Member States’ and stakeholders’ experiences with the application of the Regulation, which was revised in 2004.

The Communication further explains how the rules with respect to the independence of the slot coordinator, new entry, local guidelines and exchange of slots for monetary and other consideration should be interpreted.

Additionally, it emphasises the need for better cooperation between European coordinators to ensure an objective and transparent slot allocation procedure, and the added value of implementing a mechanism aimed at increasing the consistency between airport slots and flight plans.

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