Contributing author: Philippe Villard, Head, Policy and Economics, ACI World
The WAGA pre-conference on airport slots demonstrated a keen interest from the airport community to play a leading role in the allocation of airport slots.
The allocation of airport slots to airlines at congested airports can be quite a complex process. But despite this complexity, an efficient slot allocation system is crucial to ensure that the scarce airport infrastructure is used as efficiently as possible for the benefits of travellers and the communities served by airports.
The objective of the WAGA pre-conference workshop on airport slots was to shed light on the key allocation policies and processes contained in the IATA Worldwide Slot Guidelines (WSG), to take stock of the strategic review of these guidelines undertaken jointly by the airports, the airlines and the slot coordinators community, and to illustrate concretely the leading role that airports can play in the slot allocation process.
The ACI World slot team introduced the workshop by giving a short overview of the WSG and its content. Time was spent on clarifying and detailing concepts such as:
The common thread was to understand what the role of airports is under the current WSG, but also and even more what their role could and should be in the future.
Gunter Heinrich, Head, Airport Slot Management, Frankfurt Airport and Chairman of the ACI World Expert group on Slots (EGS) subsequently led a discussion on the Strategic Review of the WSG. ACI and its member airports indeed committed in 2016 to work closely with the airlines and the facilitators/slot coordinators to undertake a Strategic Review of the guidelines to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from an equitable global process. This Review has represented a first global test to improve the global slot allocation process in a fully inclusive manner. Four task forces composed by airports, airlines and slot coordinators have been reviewing the guidelines in the areas of:
a) airport levels
b) historic determination
c) slot performance monitoring
d) access to congested airports
The outcome of the Review is positive in many areas, leading to improvements in the calendar of coordination activities, increased transparency to airport operators, and slot performance monitoring and corrective actions in case of slot misuse by airlines.
Changi Airport is a leading world airport. The participants to the workshop benefited from an in-depth presentation from Donald Tan, Vice-President Airline Development, Changi Airport Group, on slot coordination at Singapore Changi. Changi Airport Group was appointed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore as slot coordinator in 2010. The parameters used by the team of slot coordinators were detailed as well as the underlying regulatory framework, demonstrating the key role that airport operators can play in the efficient allocation of slots to airline users.
Finally, technology can be a game changer for airports in the slot allocation process. Participants learnt from Reina Komori, Application Specialist, PDC Aviation Asia-Pacific how specialized IT solutions can assist airports in assessing the coordination parameters and in effectively controlling the airport load situation. As technology is rapidly changing, IT tools will become instrumental in optimizing the allocation and use of airport capacity.
To conclude, thanks should be addressed to the participants to the workshop. Speakers addressed a full room of airport and world business partners delegates as well as other aviation stakeholders, demonstrating the keen interest from the airport community in playing a leading role in the development of slot allocation policies.