Aviation News

June 2, 2011

Reallocation of European Airport Slots Could Yield $7 Billion Economic Boost

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By: BNO News
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More than $7.14 billion (€5 billion) in economic benefits could be gained by 2025 by reviewing European rules on allocating slots for landing and takeoff at the European Union’s (EU) busiest airports, according to a new study ordered by the European Commission and released on Monday.

Amsterdam Schiphol airport

According to the study, not only could the net economic benefits of a combination of changes surpass €5 billion over the period 2012-2025 (net present value), but up to 28 million additional passengers could be accommodated per year within the existing airport capacity were the changes identified in the study made to the system.

Changes could also boost employment, the study showed it would also be in line with the strategy set out in the recent White Paper which identified the optimization of airport capacity as a key step towards the establishment of the Single European Transport Area.

With passenger numbers forecast to grow by up to 4.5 percent annually, Europe currently has some 26,000 daily flights, but airport capacity is reaching saturation, causing congestion and delays.

The global financial crisis had caused reductions in traffic, but traffic is increasing again and demand is expected to recover in the medium term. As a result, airport capacity will not be sufficient to accommodate demand at a large number of European airports and therefore congestion will significantly worsen.

“We have been concerned that the current system of allocating takeoff and landing slots at airports is inefficient, giving rise to delays and congestion,” said Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport.

“This has now been confirmed by today’s report, showing that up to 28 million more passengers could travel each year through Europe’s airports. I intend to bring forward legislation this autumn to tackle this issue,” Kallas added.

However, the study highlights a number of problems with the current slot allocation system which, taken together, prevents scarce capacity at busy airports from being used in the most optimal way, causes congestion and hinders competition.

The study signaled problems such as sub-optimal use of capacity at some airports, continued difficulties faced by carriers trying to grow their operations at congested airports in order to provide real competition to incumbent carriers, inadequate operation of the slot coordination, and lack of consistency with the Single European Sky.

The EU said that a policy package on airports, including slots, will be presented this autumn by the European Commission.