The Development of the Regulatory Regime of Slot Allocation in the EU
Anecdotal evidence suggests that a market for slots – scheduled times of arrival or departure available or allocated to an aircraft movement on a specic date at an airport1 – exists in the European Union. When the subject is discussed with EU ofcials, however, it is stressed that under the current regulatory regime slot trading is illegal in the European Union, therefore a market should not exist (see, e.g., Paylor, 2005). This is undoubtedly true as far as primary trading is concerned. Primary trading involves buying slots at source – a one-shot purchase in the original allocation of slots at any given airport. With respect to to secondary trading – the sale of slots between airlines after the initial allocation – the picture is much more obscure. There is no denying that secondary slot trading exists (see CAA, 2001a, p. 33; CAA, 2004, p. 3) and some allege that the EU ‘resolutely closes its eyes to the slot trading that is taking place’ (Buyck, 2004). To what extent it is lawful and covered by the current EU regulatory regime is a question open to discussion. This chapter will, after an introduction into the practical dimensions of the problem, assess the legal aspects of slot trading by outlining the EU regulatory regime introduced in 1993. The chapter will then turn to the challenges EU lawmakers have faced since then, look at the 2004 reform and nally address the ongoing reform discussions and the legal challenges a market based approach to slot allocation could create. The chapter will demonstrate that from a legal point of view, many questions remain to be answered.