Raising the existing 80:20 slot usage rates, greater transparency with slot-allocation decisions, creating a central platform for secondary slot trading and limiting the length of slot leases are among a number of topics under consideration as part of a wide-ranging UK government consultation.

The UK transport ministry says it is looking at proposals for new ways to manage slot capacity and how they are allocated to airlines, under the airport slot allocation system reform consultation it has launched today. 


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London Heathrow is one of eight UK airports where capacity constrains mean slots are allocated

That includes a move to potentially increase the current 80-20 ‘use it or lose it’ rules, under which airlines must use at least 80% of slots allocated in each season in order to retain them for the same season the following year.

”Given the current capacity constraints… and the likelihood of these worsening without new capacity, the government believes that it is essential that the utilisation of existing capacity is fully maximised,” the transport ministry says. ”One measure by which to ensure that existing capacity is more fully utilised would be to implement a higher usage ratio.” It has included an impact of assessment on raising the slot usage ratio to 90:10 as part of the consultation, but says it has no view on what the new level should be set at.

The UK is also consulting on whether slot auctioning would be an affective means of allocating new slot capacity and whether to ring-fence a portion of new slots for domestic connectivity. It is also consulting on potentially limiting the historic rights granted to an airline for some, or potentially, all new slots made available – meaning these would return to the slot pool after a period of time.

In a joint forward to the consultation, UK transport and aviation ministers Mark Harper and Anthony Browne say: ”This consultation sets out proposals for reform that are aimed at making the system more efficient, transparent and dynamic. We also want to use this opportunity to future-proof the system so that if new airport capacity is created it can deliver the greatest possible benefits.”

In the consultation document the government says it recognises potential reforms to the current system “cannot be considered in isolation” and that it intends ”to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the success of any potential reforms”. It has set a 9 February deadline for responses.

”Once the consultation has closed, the government will consider the responses received, alongside any feedback provided during consultation events before reaching conclusions on the implementation of any of the reform proposals,” it says.