The European Commission judged that the existing European Union legislation on airport slot allocation does not prohibit secondary slot trading, in a communication released on April 30, which puts an end to more than a decade of discussion.
"Today we are recognizing for the first time that secondary trading is an acceptable way of allowing slots to be swapped among airlines," said EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot. "This system has already shown its value in London, where it has allowed a range of airlines to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the EU-U.S. aviation agreement and to create new levels of competition," he added.
Regional carriers are fiercely opposed to slot trading in the EU. "Putting a price on slots creates a risk that they will be viewed as a more valuable asset than the service provided to a particular destination or region," claims the European Regions Airline Association (ERA). "Regions may also lose out if an airline wishing to serve a route cannot afford to buy a slot which it might have been allocated under the existing regulation," added the association.
But Barrot warned that the EU executive body "will keep a close eye on the situation across Europe." The EC said it would legislate "if it becomes apparent that for competition or other reasons revision of the existing legislation is required."