Airport slots: Commission disappointed at level of ambition in Council text
The European Commission takes note of the agreement reached on the newly proposed Airports Slots Regulation in today's Transport Council Agreement. The agreement, in the form of "General Approach", has been found on a text significantly departing from the original that the Commission proposed. In the Commission view, despite the best efforts of the Presidency and all delegations, the text agreed upon by the Council lacks ambition and needed more time for cautious consideration. The new Airports Slot Regulation has important economic implications for the whole aviation chain and is a key element of the airports package.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "The issue at stake is of the highest importance. Airports are getting busier and busier. For some of them, congestion is already a real problem and there will be further capacity shortages in the next few years. It is a problem that increases costs, to the detriment of consumers; it is a problem that harms reliability, to the detriment of anyone wanting to fly. This cannot be allowed for any reason. I therefore hope that the final legislation will be more ambitious than the agreement found in Council today."
The general objective of the Commission proposal is to ensure that the allocation and use of airport slots in congested airports is effective, also by enhancing fair competition and competitiveness between operators. The scarcity of slots and the level of congestion are factors influencing airlines' decisions as to which destinations they serve and may therefore negatively impact the connectivity of regions to such airports, which are generally located near to large economic centres: capital cities, industrial centres. The reality is that infrastructure will not keep up with the increase in demand for air travel. The Commission proposal would allow airports to accommodate 24 million more passengers at EU airports in the light of the expected increase in demand.
After the "General Approach" the text will be considered in first reading by the European Parliament before going back to Council.
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)