Published on Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Competition watchdog calls for Heathrow slot auction



The UK's competition watchdog is calling for Heathrow to auction off additional take-off and landing slots released by the opening of the airport's proposed third runway.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says this will benefit passengers, businesses and the wider economy.

"Giving more airlines the chance to offer flights by reforming how slots are allocated could lead to passengers having a greater choice of airlines when they fly, which may lead to lower fares, better service and better value," it said its response to the Department for Transport's Green Paper 'Aviation 2015 - the future of UK aviation'.

"This will be of particular significance when new capacity from a new runway at Heathrow is released."

CMA said the current system of slot allocation by ACL is 'inherently flawed', mainly because airlines get to keep the slots they've been given and can use them on other routes if they wish. As a result, ACL only has a few slots to release every flying season, which, says CMA, restricts competition.

When the new runway opens at Heathrow, there will be up to 350 additional slot pairs available every day, which CMA said should be made available via a 'well-designed auction', with airlines required to pay an upfront fee for the slots they want to operate.

The CMA said it also supported the DfT's proposed passenger charter designed to improve the passenger experience, but it said this should be mandatory rather than voluntary so that customers have the same protections, regardless of which airline they choose or which airport they fly from.

It also said it has identified several areas of air travel that require improvement, such as taxi travel to and from airports, the cost of wifi and food and drink.

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