Keflavik operator ordered to release slots to Wow Air

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Iceland’s competition watchdog has ordered the country’s airport and air traffic control operator Isavia to release peak-time slots at Keflavik airport to Wow Air, to allow the carrier to compete with rival Icelandair on transatlantic routes.

Isavia must "give priority to Wow Air" in the allocation of Keflavik slots for the summer 2014 season, after the Icelandic Competition Authority concluded that the current system was "damaging to competition and prevents new competitors from being able to enter the market".

The authority began a probe in 2012, after Wow Air complained it was not being given the slots needed to operate a hub-and-spoke system at Keflavik to feed passengers from Europe to North America and vice versa.

In its investigation, the authority found that the "vast majority of slots" at peak hours at Keflavik were being allocated to Icelandair, and that the flag carrier "had priority when the airport increased its capacity and a new slot became available last summer". There was no evidence that competitive factors had been considered in these decisions, the authority concluded.

Isavia will need to allocate to Wow Air at least two slots between 07:00 and 08:00 for flights to Europe and two slots between 16:00 and 17:30 for flights to North America in the summer 2014.

It must also prepare guidelines for the independent slot-allocation co-ordinator that will ensure that when there are two or more applicants for the same slot for a particular destination, "priority should be given to the airline that has the lower market share according to the number of passengers".