Airport operators association ACI EUROPE has renewed calls for the European Commission to conduct “a legitimate, necessary and overdue evolution” of EU airport slot regulation rules.

The current 80/20 slot rules (which were relaxed during the Covid-19 pandemic), require airlines to operate at least 80 per cent of allocated slots, or face losing their right to the slot in future seasons.

But ACI said that the current regulation “is largely based on principles set by incumbent airlines for incumbent airlines, with airports having no say on the way their capacity is allocated and used”.

The association added that the 30-year-old rules were “written in a different era for aviation, when liberalisation was only just beginning and before the boom in low-cost carriers and the development of airports as competing businesses”.

A letter from ACI EUROPE president and executive vice president of AENA, Javier Marín to EU Transport Commissioner Valean, praised the Commission “for its ambitious work to date in preparing the ground for a revision of the Regulation currently in place”, but warned that it must now “take the next step and move forwards with a legislative proposal to future-proof the single aviation market”.

Marín said that the regulation must be revised to avoid current “slot hoarding, overbidding, ‘double-dipping’, slot leasing, secondary trading and abuse of the New Entrant rule by multi-airline groups”.

He added that Europe accounts for over half of the slot coordinated airports worldwide, and “Given the near-impossibility of creating new airport capacity in Europe, the Slot Regulation is the most critical piece of legislation for the functioning of the single aviation market”.

Marín’s letter to the EU Transport Commissioner can be read in full here.

IATA recently published its latest air traffic figures for March 2023, showing that global traffic had reached 88 per cent of pre-Covid levels, with passenger numbers to exceed pre-Covid levels in 2024.

IATA: global air traffic now at 88 per cent of 2019 levels