Threats to competition, consumer choice, and connectivity: the reality of the EU airport slots regulation as seen by the European airport lobby.
ACI EUROPE, the industry organization representing European airports, has continued its call for the European Commission to urgently update the EU Regulation on airport slots.
In a letter from ACI EUROPE President and AENA Executive Vice-President Javier Marín to the EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, the Commission was praised for its ambitious work to date in preparing the ground for a review of the current 30-year-old Regulation.
Now the Commission must take the next step and move forward with a legislative proposal to create a single aviation market in the future.
The current EU Regulation on airport slots is heavily based on principles established by leading airlines for permanent airlines, with airports having no voting rights on how their capacity is distributed and used. Therefore, the Regulation reflects an era that no longer exists - when national airlines dominated, low-cost carriers had not yet appeared, competition was weak, and airport capacity was unlimited.
The shortcomings and loopholes of the EU Regulation on airport slots are now obvious, as Javier Marín stated: "Practices such as slot accumulation, inflated rates, 'double dipping', slot leasing, secondary trading, and abuse of new entrant rules by multi-airline groups conflict with the spirit of a single aviation market, limiting competition, connectivity, and consumer choice."
As more than half of the world's most congested airports are in Europe, and congestion will worsen as creating new airport capacity becomes increasingly difficult, updating the rules on airport slots is of fundamental importance to protecting the integrity and effective functioning of the single aviation market. This is crucial for safeguarding consumer interests and regional connectivity.
The European airport industry is calling for a lawful, necessary, and overdue evolution of slot rules in airports, rather than a revolution. The full text of the letter sent to the Commissioner for Transport, as well as to the Commissioner for Competition Vestager, can be found here or in the attachment.