IATA for early adoption of airport slot norms in India

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on December 23, 2019 Published on December 23, 2019

Move to help new airlines get slots are various airports in the country

IATA is in talks with the Indian civil aviation officials to adopt the worldwide airport slot guidelines which will help new airlines get slots at various airports in the country.

Once adopted, more international airlines will be able to fly into India, connecting more cities worldwide and it could also help the government’s UDAAN scheme.

Lara Maughan and Dimiter Zahariev, the authors of the IATA’s worldwide airport slot guidelines (WASG), told BusinessLine that the slot guidelines have become the backbone of how the airlines plan their schedules together. “It is important to have these guidelines as airports have increasingly become congested,” Maughan said. They also said that it is important for India to have an independent co-ordinator to monitor the airport slots and apportion them to all the airlines equally.

Maughan and Zahariev have worked around the existing airports and their infrastructure to open up more slots, primarily to accommodate new entrants. “While creating more infrastructure has always been a challenge for airports, it has not prevented more airlines being launched,” Maughan said.

Clear rules

She explained that as per the guidelines, new entrants which could either be new airlines or those who have not operated from a particular airport will be allowed three daily return flights. Once these slots are used up, that particular airline will not be allocated new slots but will have to bid for the next phase of expansion. “Since 2009, we have seen airlines provide more routes at slot-coordinated airports than less congested alternatives and have managed to grow the number of routes offered by around 32 per cent despite a real lack of capacity,” Maughan said.

The IATA officials pointed out that the slots are allocated according to clear rules and guiding criteria contained in the guidelines allowing for more transparency and fairness. In one case, the Norwegian was allocated three weekly slots at the Heathrow airport after putting in place the new guidelines. Giving an example, they said if the Mumbai airport which has 45 movements per day after better airflow management manages to increase it to 50 then five more additional slots will open up.

Capt GR Gopinath in an interview with this paper some time ago had said there is huge headroom for growth if the airport slots are allotted to regional airlines. He said less than 3 per cent of people travel by air. There are about 95 million tickets which get sold every year but only 30 million people fly and the rest are repeat passengers from the same bucket.

He said as per DGCA figures, over 75 per cent of all the tickets sold are for six major cities — Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Rest of the 500-odd airports have no flights or get one flight once in three days. Hence, if more slots are freed up in these metros, then regional airlines will be able to pick up more passengers from the hinterland and connect them with the metros.

Published on December 23, 2019
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