Thursday, January 14, 2010
Given the recent dispute concerning slots at London Heathrow airport as part of the oneworld Alliance's antitrust immunity application, blog readers may be interested in reading Gabriel S. Sanchez's Toward Comprehensive Slot Rule Reform in the EU, 9 Issues in Aviation L. & Pol'y 89 (2009) (available from SSRN here). From the abstract:
While the European Union’s liberalized common air transport market is often heralded as a great achievement, its potential remains stymied by the problem of scarce capacity at its airports. In order to mange this scarce capacity, the EU Member States rely upon a slot concept whereby air carriers are apportioned a temporal point of access to a specific airport’s gates and runways for the purposes of either landing or taking off. In order to better manage slot apportionment, a “code of conduct” was promulgated in 1993 which, among other things, set the terms for how Member States were to distribute slots and under what conditions an airline could be forced to forfeit a slot into a pool for redistribution. Under the so-called “use-or-lose” rule, a carrier must use an apportioned slot at least 80 percent of the time during a given commercial season in order to retain it for the following season. Though critics claim this rule has failed to reallocate enough slots to meet the demands of potential new entrants, it remains the only mechanism for slot surrender and redistribution.
This article examines the problem of slot allocation in the EU and the legislative efforts to address the issue. It reviews and criticizes the recent temporary suspension of a critical component of the EC slot rules and looks at how this inapt move could lead to meaningful and efficient slot reform. This article also suggests what that reform ought to look like, while not committing to any series of concrete rules.