Dusseldorf imposes new slot fee

 - October 8, 2007, 11:02 AM

Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport is to introduce a new E160 ($176) “slot allocation charge” for each takeoff and landing, which operators have to pay even if they cannot use the slot in question. ERA is protesting the move on the grounds that such a charge contravenes existing EC legislation and ICAO recommendations.

Under current EC slot rules, carriers must use their slots to retain their grandfather rights. ERA argues that it is not practical for operators to use all their slots all the time and that, therefore, some will end up having to pay for unused slots under the new Dusseldorf system.

“We are concerned about this because we know that other airports see this as a precedent and are considering similar new charges themselves,” said ERA infrastructure and environment manager Simon McNamara. The new fee will take effect at Dusseldorf with the start of the winter timetable, in October. The airport has also increased costs for regional aircraft by progressively raising the minimum weights at which their landing fees are calculated.

The Dusseldorf issue is a sensitive one for ERA because the German airport is one of its members. The association now has 40 airport members and wants to raise their profile by holding a dedicated airport meeting during the general assembly.

ERA has also established a High Quality Handling Forum to develop short- and long-term measures to improve the effectiveness of handling operations for regional airline services. The association wants to assemble its airport and airline members to devise improved procedures such as tarmac transfers, power-off/power-on self-maneuvering and dedicated check-ins for regional passengers. ERA carriers are also pressing airports for greater transparency in the way they bundle handling charges.