European Slot Regulations are to be celebrated, but airports need to show further transparency over operating capacity, says IATA's Director General and CEO.

Alexandre de Juniac

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac has said airports must be more transparent about their operating capacity to fully utilise the existing infrastructure in Europe and satisfy growing demand.

The IATA chief acknowledged that the European Slot Regulation was working well, but said that the slot rules—which can only make best use of the declared capacity at each airport—needed to see greater consistency in airport declaration across Europe.

Airports must do more to increase the operating capacity of existing infrastructure and governments need to encourage and facilitate timely and cost-effective expansion of congested airports and airspace

"Airports must do more to increase the operating capacity of existing infrastructure and governments need to encourage and facilitate timely and cost-effective expansion of congested airports and airspace,” said de Juniac. 

“But this cannot work without the consistent application of transparent methodologies for determining available capacity. There is room for improvement. Only through regular and impartial analysis can all capacity become available for more slots to be allocated.”

A lack of new airport capacity has created constraints across the industry, but de Juniac pointed out that airline passengers in Europe are still enjoying an unprecedented level of choice and competition.

"This is no small achievement when you consider that Europe’s airports are among the most congested in the world," he said.

IATA analysis has shown that 30% of European routes are now operated by two or more carriers, an increase of five percentage points since 2010. 

Research commissioned by the Airports Council International (ACI) has also revealed that the growth in city-pair connections, which has seen a near doubling in the past 20 years of destinations both within Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world, has added to this.

Despite the analysis confirming that the slot rules are fostering competition and growing connectivity, de Juniac said new infrastructure is the preferred solution to growing demand.

We strongly recommend that the European Slot Regulation remains a stable, consistent, and leading example of global best practice

"The real solution to Europe’s aviation capacity crisis is to build more airport and air navigation infrastructure. But we are already on the back foot and capacity is not keeping pace with demand growth,” said de Juniac.

“The European Slot Regulation has been successful for two decades—fairly allocating scarce capacity in line with global standards, enabling new entrants and strengthening connectivity. 

“Most importantly it provides consumers with reliability and competitive choices. We strongly recommend that it remains a stable, consistent, and leading example of global best practice.”

In regards to refining the European Slot Regulation, IATA, the ACI, and independent slot coordinators have formed a working group to look at improving the current system, which will report to the ICAO Assembly in 2019.

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