Optimising capacity

Angela Gittens,  Director General, ACI World

Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World

The growth of air transport‭ ‬has led to increased congestion both at airports and in‭ ‬the airspace‭. ‬Worldwide‭, ‬some 300‭ ‬airports are directly affected by‭ ‬airport coordination‭, ‬meaning that a slot allocation process needs to‭ ‬be imposed or voluntarily applied‭. ‬Of these‭, ‬over 180‭ ‬are‭ ‬fully coordinated airports‭, ‬an increase from 142‭ ‬in 2012‭. ‬

With‭ ‬the constraints on increasing capacity in the short‭- ‬and medium‭-‬term‭, ‬it is likely that many airports will continue to‭ ‬be slot constrained‭. ‬Traffic congestion at airports obviously causes delays‭ ‬for airlines and passengers‭, ‬with the associated costs for both‭. ‬But traffic congestion can lead to lowered growth in air‭ ‬service which tends to flatten where slot constraint persists‭. ‬This‭ ‬constraint on volume growth in turn can lower the social‭ ‬and economic benefits that airports generate‭, ‬decrease network connectivity and‭ ‬increase ticket prices as incumbent airlines face decreased competition‭. ‬

It‭ ‬is the best interest of airport operators and the communities‭ ‬they serve to promote efficiency in the allocation and use‭ ‬of the capacity that they build‭, ‬maintain and operate‭. ‬Airport‭ ‬infrastructure is an expensive and limited resource yet airport operators‭ ‬have historically had little or no influence on the decision‭-‬making with respect to slot allocations‭. ‬

Airports Council International‭ (‬ACI‭) ‬through its Expert Group on Slots urges states to facilitate‭ ‬more effective engagement by all stakeholders‭, ‬including airport operators‭, ‬to‭ ‬improve industry guidance on slot allocation that takes national interests‭ ‬and drivers of economic benefit into account‭, ‬such as accommodating‭ ‬new entrants to drive trade and tourism‭.‬

This approach was‭ ‬welcomed by states during the 39th Triennial International Civil Aviation‭ ‬Organization‭ (‬ICAO‭) ‬Assembly‭. ‬Deficiencies in the slot allocation process were‭ ‬agreed to be addressed by the aviation industry through the‭ ‬Strategic Review of the World Slots Guidelines‭ (‬WSG‭) ‬to ensure‭ ‬that a globally compatible process is maintained‭. ‬

The Strategic Review‭ ‬of the WSG is a collaborative initiative among ACI‭, ‬the‭ ‬World Wide Airport Coordinators Group‭ (‬WWACG‭) ‬and the International Air‭ ‬Transport Association‭ (‬IATA‭), ‬with the objective to improve and optimize‭ ‬the WSG so that all stakeholders contribute and benefit from‭ ‬a harmonized global process‭. ‬Over the next three years‭, ‬ACI‭, ‬the WWACG and IATA will engage states and other stakeholders‭ ‬and report to the next ICAO Assembly‭, ‬where conclusions of this important project will be drawn‭. ‬

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