When organising your flight, you may hear about slots, without knowing what they are. In this article, AEROAFFAIRES explains what a slot is and its importance.
What is a slot?
Very simply, a slot is a time slot given to an airline to land or take off its aircraft at a given airport. It is very important because it allows air traffic to be regulated and coordinated. It has a function of optimising air traffic flows.
How do we organise a slot?
Once you have drawn up your contract containing your time preferences, our role as an air broker will be to make requests to the relevant authorities and the airline to obtain the slot that best suits your needs. In most cases, it is possible to obtain the desired time slot, unless the airport has no availability on the desired time slot, which is rare. The latter case is more likely to occur during the peak season. At airports that are very popular with private aviation, such as Mykonos or Figari in summer, it is preferable to anticipate demand and book as early as possible. The slot is an essential tool for the successful completion of the flight, it allows the airport to take charge of the flight. A flight cannot take place without obtaining a slot in advance.
Our role is to advise you and suggest an airport offering the greatest flexibility, as close as possible to your destination.
Please note that certain factors may affect the punctuality of the slot, such as weather conditions or even strikes.
A slot cannot be bought or sold. This is completely illegal as a slot is considered a “common good” in the European Union. In each country, slots are allocated by a coordinator. In France, the COHOR (association for the coordination of schedules) groups together the most important airlines and airports.
Slots, the sinews of war
Slots are rare compared to the number of players in the air transport market. Indeed, their number depends on several criteria such as the airport’s capacity, environmental constraints and the number of runways. Thus, at some airports it is easy to find an available slot, whereas at other saturated airports it is much more difficult to obtain one. Slots are of vital importance for the economic health of an airline. Indeed, depending on the slots, flights are more or less attractive to passengers. An airline keeps its slots from one season to the next as long as it has used 80% of them, which sometimes leads them to make counterproductive decisions such as flying their aircraft empty so as not to lose their slots. If there are slots left at an airport that are not used by existing airlines, they are redistributed and allocated to other airlines operating at the airport or to new airlines wishing to develop their activities there.
As an anecdote, at La Guardia Airport in New York, in the early 2000s a lottery was organised to allocate slots and avoid any kind of favouritism.
Examples of airports with special slots
The Courchevel altiport, which is accessible by certain private jets, has special slots. Indeed, its access conditions are very strict. It is not certified for night flights and air movements are limited to certain hours of the day. The runway is very short and only allows two aircraft certified as public transport to land there: the Vulcanair Aviator TP 600 and the Vulcanair P68 Turbo Commander.
London City Airport in England is dedicated entirely to business aviation. It is located on an artificial island in the Thames. For reasons of noise pollution, flights are only allowed on weekdays from 6.30am to 9.30pm, on Saturdays from 6.30am to 12.30pm and on Sundays from 12.30pm to 4.30pm.
Saint-Tropez La Môle airport also has a terminal entirely dedicated to private aviation. It is limited, several external factors such as the size of the clouds, the heat or the wind conditions are to be taken into account as they can limit the capacity to act on site. It is advisable to take off or land in the morning or at the end of the day. The times to avoid are between 12pm and 5pm, as it is in this time slot that restrictions are most likely to be applied.
AEROAFFAIRES gives you all the information you need to travel to your destination with peace of mind. As an air broker, we do our utmost to meet all your needs. Our aviation experts are at your disposal 7 days a week. Contact us now at +33144099182, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or make your quote online to get an estimate of your trip.