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Slot allocation proposals threaten regional routes throughout Europe

The long-awaited proposal to amend the current slot allocation regulations was published by the European Commission on 28 June…

The long-awaited proposal to amend the current slot allocation regulations was published by the European Commission on 28 June. The European Regions Airline Association (ERA<.>) believes that, should it become law, it will result in immediate and significant reductions in air services between regional communities and congested airports.



The European Commission describes its proposal as offering better access to routes serving…the regions and promoting services to the regions. However, on closer inspection of the proposal, ERA believes these claims to be unjustified since several of the proposals would be detrimental to regional services.



According to the proposal:



Airport slot coordinators will be allowed to exclude aircraft below a certain size from their airports.



This poses the most serious threat to regional air services.



Coordinators will be required to give a lower priority to services on routes where satisfactory service by other means of transport exists.



This may be interpreted to include routes with rail or road services between city centres. The requirements of airline passengers connecting to and from the regions cannot be met satisfactorily by such services.



Coordinators will be required to give new services priority over the re-timing of existing services.



If regional airlines wish to re-time their services to hub airports in order to improve the connections that they can offer to their passengers, they risk losing their slot completely to another airline serving a different route.



The Commission has recognised that routes with public service obligations (PSOs)

imposed by a member state should be allowed to continue to operate. However,

most of these routes do not serve congested airports and are not affected by this legislation.



The Commission has also proposed that new services between congested airports

and regional airports should be allowed priority under the rules applying to new entrants. However, as these will be subject to the restrictions described above, this is unlikely to create any significant number of services to new regional destinations.



Furthermore, the European Commission`s definition of a regional airport excludes some airports that specifically serve local communities in Europe.



ERA believes that the economic and social interests of regional communities

throughout the European Economic Area (European Union, Norway and Iceland) are

directly threatened by the proposal, and that the impact on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) has not been effectively evaluated.



Regional communities require, for economic and social reasons, good public

transport links to other associated regions, to main centres and to hub airports. Inward investment is dependent on the existence of these transport links. Without these links, regional economies will suffer, with adverse social consequences
, stated Mike Ambrose, director general. He added, ERA plans to assist the relevant bodies to reach a full understanding of the implications of the proposal, and to work with them to eliminate the adverse impacts of the proposed changes.

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