IATA and the European Union Airport Coordinators Association (EUACA), which represents the bodies that allocate airport slots across the region, agreed to write to the European Commission (EC) asking for clear regulations on how slots are given out in the aftermath of the crisis following the recent IATA slot coordination meeting in Singapore.

Although the EC has issued guidance asking co-ordinators to be sympathetic to airline requests to retain the rights to slots they do not use in winter 2001 for use in winter 2002, there are worries that different interpretations will occur indifferent states.

The issue is most pressing at Europe's largest transatlantic gateways, and also the most slot-constrained, of London Heathrow and Gatwick, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.

At present, carriers have the option of either cancelling services in light of falling traffic volume for winter 2001 in the hope they will get the slots back in winter 2002 when traffic hopefully returns, or flying empty aircraft to protect the slots.

"We support the airlines...but what we want is clarity," said one co-ordinator. "The EC [guidance] was helpful, but did not go far enough."

Source: Airline Business