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A landing slot, takeoff slot, or airport slot is a permission granted by the owner of an airport designated as Level 3 (Coordinated Airport), which allows the grantee to schedule a landing or departure at that airport during a specific time period. Slots may be administered by the operator of the airport or by a government aviation regulator such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Landing slots are allocated in accordance with guidelines set down by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Worldwide Airport Slots Group. All airports worldwide are categorized as either Level 1 (Non-Coordinated Airport), Level 2 (Schedules Facilitated Airport), or Level 3 (Coordinated Airport). At Level 2 airports, the principles governing slot allocation are less stringent; airlines periodically submit proposed schedules to the administrating authority, rather than historic performance. Participation is not mandatory, but reduces congestion and non-participants are penalized if the airport must later be designated level 3.
As of summer 2017, a total of 123 airports in the world are Level 2 airports, and 177 are Level 3 airports.
Allocated landing slots may have a commercial value and can be traded between airlines. Continental Airlines paid US$209 million for four pairs of landing slots from GB Airways at London Heathrow Airport, $52.3m each. The highest price paid for a pair of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow Airport was $75m, paid by Oman Air to Air France–KLM for a prized early morning arrival, reported in February 2016. A year before, American Airlines paid $60m to Scandinavian Airlines.
Heathrow slot valuations
|Year||Buyer||Seller||daily slot pairs||transaction (£M)||slot value (£M)|
|2008||Continental||GB Airways/Alitalia/Air France||4||104.5||26.1|
As supply is limited, slot trading became the main solution to enter Heathrow and transfers grew from 42 in 2000 to 526 in 2012 and over 10 years the average priced slot was equivalent to £4 per passenger.
If an airline does not use an allocation of slots (typically 80% usage over six months), it can lose the rights. Airlines may operate ghost or empty flights to preserve slot allocations. To avoid pollution and financial losses caused by an excessive number of empty flights, these rules have occasionally been waived during periods of temporary but widespread travel disruption, including after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and during the SARS epidemic, the Great Recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Level 3 coordinated airports
- Innsbruck Airport (winter season only)
- Kotoka International Airport - Accra
- Chania Airport (summer season only)
- Chios Airport (summer season only)
- Corfu Airport (summer season only)
- Heraklion Airport (summer season only)
- Kalamata Airport (summer season only)
- Karpathos Island National Airport (summer season only)
- Kavala Airport (summer season only)
- Kephalonia International Airport (summer season only)
- Kithira Airport (summer season only)
- Kos Airport (summer season only)
- Mykonos Airport (summer season only)
- Mytilene Airport (summer season only)
- Patras Airport (summer season only)
- Preveza Airport (summer season only)
- Rhodes Airport (summer season only)
- Samos Airport (summer season only)
- Sitia Public Airport (summer season only)
- Skiathos Airport (summer season only)
- Thira Airport (summer season only)
- Volos Airport (summer season only)
- Zakynthos International Airport (summer season only)
- Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport - Mumbai
- Indira Gandhi International Airport - Delhi
- Chennai International Airport - Chennai
- Rajiv Gandhi International Airport - Hyderabad
- Kempegowda International Airport - Bangalore
- Ngurah Rai International Airport - Denpasar
- Soekarno-Hatta International Airport - Jakarta
- Lampedusa Airport (summer season only)
- Linate Airport - Milan
- Malpensa Airport - Milan
- Orio al Serio Airport - Milan
- Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (summer season only)
- Pantelleria Airport (summer season only)
- Ciampino Airport - Rome
- Fiumicino Airport - Rome
- Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport - Mauritius
- Faro Airport (summer season only)
- Sheremetyevo Airport - Moscow
- Vnukovo International Airport - Moscow
- King Shaka International Airport - Durban
- OR Tambo International Airport - Johannesburg
- Ibiza Airport (summer season only)
- Menorca Airport (summer season only)
- Suvarnabhumi Airport - Bangkok
- Don Mueang International Airport - Bangkok
- Antalya Airport - Antalya (summer season only)
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- Boryspil International Airport - Kiev
United Arab Emirates
- John F. Kennedy International Airport - New York City
- LaGuardia Airport (not on IATA list, but slot controlled)
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport - Washington, D.C. (not on IATA list, but slot controlled)
- Noi Bai International Airport - Hanoi
- Tan Son Nhat International Airport - Ho Chi Minh City
- ^'Worldwide Slot Guidelines, 9th Edition English Version'(PDF). IATA. 1 January 2019. p. 14.
- ^ abSlot Administration - U.S. Level 2 Airports
- ^ ab'List of all Level 2 and Level 3 airports'. iata.org. 29 May 2018.
- ^'Continental pays Heathrow record'. Financial Times. March 3, 2008.
- ^'Oman breaks Heathrow record with deal for slots'. The Sunday Times. 14 February 2016.
- ^'Heathrow Airport's slot machine: hitting the jackpot again?'. CAPA centre for aviation. 8 May 2013.
- ^'Heathrow Airport: An introduction to Secondary Slot Trading'(PDF). Airport Coordination Limited. 30 September 2012. Archived from the original(PDF) on 4 March 2016.
- ^Green anger at 'ghost flights'
- ^Paul Sillers (12 March 2020). 'Ghost flights: Why our skies are full of empty planes'.
- ^ ab'Airport Reservation Office'. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
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