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European Airlines Protest EU Proposals On Airport Slots

Latest European Commission proposals to amend the 1993 Regulation on airport slots have come under fire from the Association of European Airlines and its members, who believe that the commission has reneged on a promise made last year to limit this stage of the legislative process to technical matters.

The airline association says the long-awaited proposal to amend the current slot allocation regulations, which was published recently by the European Commission, will result in immediate and significant reductions in air services between regional communities and congested airports.

The EC, however, describes its proposal as offering “better access to routes serving…the regions” and “promoting services to the regions.”

But according to the proposal, airport slot coordinators will be allowed to exclude aircraft below a certain size from their airports, says the association. This poses the most serious threat to regional air services as coordinators will be required to give a lower priority to services on routes where “satisfactory service by other means of transport exists.”

If regional airlines wish to re-time their services to hub airports in order to improve the connections that they can offer to their passengers, they risk losing their slot completely to another airline serving a different route. The commission says it recognizes that routes with public service obligations imposed by a member state should be allowed to continue to operate. However, most of these routes do not serve congested airports and are not affected by this legislation.

European airlines believe that the impact on small-and-medium-sized enterprises has not been effectively evaluated.

According to the Association of European Airlines’ secretary general, Karl-Heinz Neumeister, “the regulation for slots is not an appropriate instrument to pursue what is in any case a questionable policy. Scarce slots redistributed between 20 competitors rather than four does not generate more competition, merely wasteful duplication.”

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