The industry body representing Europe’s airports, ACI Europe, has renewed its call for the European Commission to urgently bring the EU Airport Slot Regulation up to date.
In a letter from ACI Europe President and Executive Vice President of AENA, Javier Marín, to EU Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, the Commission was praised for its ambitious work to date in preparing the ground for a revision of the Regulation currently in place – which is 30 years old. However, the Commission must now take the next step and move forwards with a legislative proposal to future-proof the single aviation market, the body says.
The current EU Airport Slot Regulation is largely based on principles set by incumbent airlines for incumbent airlines, with airports having no say on the way their capacity is allocated and used.ACI Europe
The Regulation reflects a long-gone era, ACI Europe points out, when national airlines dominated and low-cost carriers had yet to emerge, competition was scarce and airport capacity unconstrained. “Practices such as slot hoarding, overbidding, ‘double-dipping’, slot leasing, secondary trading and abuse of the New Entrant rule by multi-airline groups go against the spirit of the single aviation market by limiting competition, connectivity and consumer choice”, Marín explains in his letter.
Given the near impossibility of creating new airport capacity in Europe, the Slot Regulation is the most critical piece of legislation for the functioning of the single aviation market. Europe accounts for over half of the slot coordinated airports worldwide, with 107 out of 205 in the current Summer ‘23 season – a higher number and percentage (52.2%) compared to pre-Covid (50.1% in Summer ‘19, or 104/204). This means increased congestion at Europe’s airports – with the result that what capacity that is available must be allocated optimally and not blocked by airlines wishing to prevent entry by competitors.
The European airport industry is not calling for a revolution, but for a legitimate, necessary and overdue evolution of airport slot rules. “This is paramount to safeguard consumer interest and regional connectivity in the context of airline consolidation through mergers, market exit or attrition”, ACI Europe highlights.