REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL pursuant to Article 10a (5) of Regulation (EU) 2020/459 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 March 2020 amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports
1. Airport slot allocation is governed by Regulation (EEC) No 95/93, as amended, on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports (the Regulation). The Regulation allows EU Member States to designate an airport as ‘coordinated’ where there is significantly more demand from airlines to use the airport than there is capacity available. These are often referred to as ‘level three’ airports. In the UK, there are currently eight slot coordinated / level three airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Stansted, Luton, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol (Bristol is coordinated only at certain times, but has requested moving to full-time coordination).
2. A ‘slot’ is a permission to use all necessary airport infrastructure to operate an aircraft at a specified date and time for take-off or landing. The Regulation requires Member States to appoint a slot coordinator, which is functionally and financially independent, to allocate and administrate slots, which it must do in a neutral, transparent and non-discriminatory way. There is no role for Member State governments in slot allocation. In the United Kingdom, the independent slot coordinator is Airport Coordination Limited.
3. A fundamental tenet of slot administration is the “80:20”, or “use-it-or-lose-it” rule. This mandates that, provided an airline has used its slots at least 80% of the time in the preceding season (either winter or summer), it is entitled to those slots in the upcoming equivalent season. That effectively grants airlines rights to their slots in perpetuity, provided they comply with that rule. Otherwise, the slots will be returned to the ‘pool’ for reallocation by the slot coordinator. An airline would not be precluded from reapplying for the same slots, but the Regulation also requires that at least 50% of slots in the pool be made available to ‘new entrants’ to the airport, which could act as a constraint for those airlines which do not meet the definition of a new entrant.