UK SLOT ALLOCATION PROCESS AND CRITERIA

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1 Introduction The IATA Worldwide Scheduling Guidelines (currently 18 th Edition) provide the framework for slot allocation for all coordinators world-wide and set the timetable of events in the scheduling process. The coordination process at all UK airports is consistent with the IATA guidelines and EC Regulation 95/93 (as amended). The guidelines are, of necessity, broadly framed to allow the unique problems at each airport to be resolved locally by the coordinator in a flexible manner acceptable to the airlines, the airport managing body and the control authorities e.g. NATS. Slot allocation is only undertaken at airports designated by the UK Government as coordinated under Regulation 95/93. Coordinated airports in the UK are Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and London City Airport. The process used by each coordinator to resolve the scheduling problems at their airports can vary. The approach may even vary from season to season. The process is driven by the dynamics of a constantly changing capacity/demand picture, coordination parameters, IATA Guidelines, Regulations (National or EU), local rules and the availability of technology, time, resources etc. It is therefore impossible to be prescriptive about the process and criteria but the details below give a broad outline. Data Preparation and Analysis 1. Day to day schedule changes by airlines throughout each season are evaluated by the coordinator and processed as either: an ad hoc change with no relevance to the historic schedule, a temporary change to an historic schedule e.g. an aircraft type change, a permanent change to an historic schedule e.g. a retiming. 2. In September each year, what the coordinator considers to be the Summer historic schedule for each airline is sent to them individually for checking in industry standard message format (SHL). The historic schedule for each airline is based upon the results of the slot monitoring (use-it-or-lose-it) process undertaken by the coordinator for that season. Airport Coordination Limited Version 7 Page 1 of 6

2 This process ensures any disagreements between the airline and the coordinator regarding the eligibility of flights for historic rights can be resolved before the schedule submissions for the next Summer season in October. (Winter historics are established in April before schedule submissions in May). 3. In a parallel process the coordination parameters (runway, terminals, stands etc.) are agreed with the airport managing body, NATS, the control authorities and the airlines at airport capacity meetings (often held under the auspices of the Coordination Committee) around the same time that the historic schedule is sent out to the airlines in September and April. Agreement is normally reached on the coordination parameters to be applied by the coordinator shortly before the airline schedule submission deadline. The coordinator is formally notified of the airport capacities and the coordination parameters to be used for each season by the airport managing body. Preliminary coordination 1. Airline schedule requests are submitted to coordinators by midnight on the schedule submissions deadline set by IATA. This is normally in mid May for Winter season and in mid October for a Summer season. The aggregated airline submissions in the coordinator database produce a picture of Raw Demand (unconstrained demand) at the airport for the coordinator to consider against the available supply of airport capacity and the coordination parameters declared by each airport managing body (runways, terminals and stands etc). 2. Prior to any slot allocation decisions the schedule data which has been submitted by the airlines is generally sorted into one of four categories by the coordinator: i) Historic Slots - there is some flexibility here as some changes are allowed in this category which do not materially effect coordination parameters e.g. a flight number change. More significant changes which may have capacity implications, e.g. substitution of a larger aircraft, timing adjustments etc. are put into the second category called Changed Historics. ii) Changed Historics - these are flights for which the airline already holds an historic slot but which, for a variety of operational reasons, have been requested with a significant variation compared with the previous season e.g. different timing, larger aircraft etc. iii) New Entrants - the new entrant group of schedules is further subdivided between new airlines to the airport and new services Airport Coordination Limited Version 7 Page 2 of 6

3 iv) requested by incumbent airlines but still qualifying as new entrants as they hold less than 4 slots per day. New Incumbents - these are all new slot requests by existing operators not qualifying as new entrants. 3. Initially, all Historic Slots and Changed Historic slots are put into the new seasonal schedule database. 4. Changed Historics which breach the coordination parameters are rescheduled as close to their required time as possible but within the coordination parameters. 5. The net result of this process is a fully coordinated airport meeting all the coordination parameters but based entirely on Historic and Changed Historic schedules. Approximately 25-30% of airlines historic schedules become Changed Historics each season. Schedule adjustments by the coordinator to meet coordination parameters are minimised during this process. Allocation of the Slot Pool 1. Once Historic and Changed Historic schedules have been accommodated any new capacity is added to the coordination process. New capacity may arise from higher coordination parameters (additional capacity), historic slots no longer required by carriers and returned to the pool and slots lost under use-it-or-lose-it rules. This provides the pool of slots available for allocation to new requests. 2. The allocation of new slots then begins with up to 50% of the new capacity is allocated to new entrants, both new to the airport and incumbents qualified as new entrants under the Regulation, with the remaining 50% being allocated to new requests by incumbent carriers. If the 50% available to new entrants is not fully subscribed, the remaining slots in the pool are also allocated to new flights by incumbent operators. In order to achieve an optimal solution it may be necessary to allocate pool slots to Changed Historics as, by allowing Changed Historic flights to retime pool capacity may be released which better meets the needs of new entrants or new services to the airport by incumbents. Slots are considered by the coordinator on a day by day hour by hour basis. For each hour that slots are available in the pool the coordinator considers which airlines are requesting slots i.e. who is on the list of outstanding requirements (waitlist). The feasibility of each allocation decision is tested by adding the selected additional flight to the coordinator s schedule database which contains a mathematical model of the coordination parameters. No flights are added Airport Coordination Limited Version 7 Page 3 of 6

4 which break coordination parameters at this stage in the coordination process. The scheduling process is iterative and seeks to identify an optimal solution. Often flights may be added and removed from the schedule database, or retimings allowed and reversed, a number of times before the best solution is identified. 3. The criteria used in the allocation decision process are summarised below: a) Primary Criteria for slot allocation Historic precedence is the primary slot allocation criterion. The iterative nature of the slot allocation process means that the other criteria may be used in any order, for example, an airline schedule submission may be both a new entrant and a year round continuation. Historical precedence Changes to Historic Slots New Entrants Introduction of Year Round services b) Additional Criteria for slot allocation (not in priority order) Effective Period of Operation Size and Type of Market Competition World-wide scheduling constraints e.g. curfews Requirements of the travelling public Frequency of operation Local Guidelines Other issues which are taken into consideration at UK Airports are:- Night Flying Restrictions Traffic Distribution Rules Licensing and Bilateral issues 4. A number of slots may remain available even at the end of the coordination process because some slots are commercially unattractive or not operationally feasible e.g. an arrival with no corresponding departure. Preparation of Responses to Airlines Airport Coordination Limited Version 7 Page 4 of 6

5 Following the coordination process, feedback is sent to each airline in a standard industry message format (SAL) showing the slots requested and the slots allocated and, where there is any variance, the reasons for the change are shown. These outputs are distributed by coordinators to the airlines approximately two weeks before the start of the IATA Schedules Conference, which is held twice each year in June (for Winter seasons) and November (for Summer seasons). After the SAL s are distributed airlines and coordinators are allowed to discuss housekeeping changes to the allocated slots to enable both groups arrive at the Schedules Conference as well prepared as possible. More significant changes can only be discussed in the environment of the Schedules Conference to ensure a level playing filed and to avoid any anti trust issues of airline competitors sharing their data. The IATA Schedules Conference The primary objective of the IATA Schedules Conference is to agree the slot allocations for the coming season between airlines and coordinators for airports around the world. The airlines attending have other objectives such as optimising interline connections and ground handling arrangements. The Schedules Conference is attended by all the world s major international airlines (IATA and non IATA) and coordinators from around the world - more than 700 delegates may attend. Some airlines and coordinators set up a sophisticated operation (i.e. office, computer systems, staff etc.) at the Schedules Conference in order to manage their scheduling and coordination activities. The process of the Conference is for airlines to make brief appointments (using an electronic appointments system) to see the coordinator of each airport they plan to serve in the coming season and then to discuss/agree the slots allocated by the coordinator notified to them in the SAL message and the feasibility of their proposed schedules. Airlines may also engage in slot exchanges with one another in order to improve the slots which they have been allocated by the coordinator. Post Conference Activity Airport Coordination Limited Version 7 Page 5 of 6

6 The dialogue between the coordinator and the airlines on scheduling matters continues long after the Schedules Conference and into the operating season as the airlines add, change and delete their flights and as changes by one airline may release slots which can benefit other airlines. Many airlines also engage in slot exchanges in order to improve the slots that they have been allocated. In mid January (for a Summer season) and mid August (for a Winter season) there is an IATA Slot Handback Deadline. At this date airlines should return unwanted slots to the pool fro reallocation by the coordinator to other airlines. In accordance with Regulation 95/93 on 31 January (for a Summer season) and 31 August (for a Winter season) the coordinator takes a snapshot of the seasonal schedule database and the measurement against the target of 80% utilisation of slots for the respective season begins. Airport Coordination Limited Version 7 Page 6 of 6

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