EBACE Convention News

Bizav encouraged to be more vocal in making slot requests

 - May 21, 2008, 12:56 PM

Business aircraft operators should be more vocal when requesting slots at congested European airports, according to presenters yesterday at an information session on airport access. But a European Commission representative and the chairman of the EU airport coordinators association (EUACA) had converging viewpoints when pressed by operators who worry about getting kicked out of airports. Separately, Dayton Lehman, a representative of the U.S. Department of Transportation, gave an update on the DOT’s licensing process for EU operators flying to the U.S.

“The issue of airport access undermines the value proposition business aviation makes,” said Mark Wilson, NetJets Europe’s director of regulatory affairs. Indeed, as Nikolaas Pel, representative of the airports and infrastructure unit at the European Commission’s directorate for air transport, reminded, grandfather rights in slot allocation are there to encourage regular operations. However, in future regulation, he said, general and business aviation (GBA) operators may become members of coordinating committees at coordinated airports. This may include reserving slots for GBA flights.

EBAA is concerned that current rules could easily kick its members out of an airport, if an airline starts operations there, simply because these rules favor regular schedules. “You have a history but no historic rights. You have to be vocal. There are solutions but they take time to reach,” Pel answered.

Pel insisted that, just as everywhere in travel booking, you should expect less availability if you want the flexibility to fly at short notice. EBAA’s Pedro Vicente Azua said future regulation should find a new way to take business aviation’s presence into account.

Pel said there is a general concern about flying with a flight plan but without a slot. Therefore, the second package of the Single European Sky ATM initiative will include a new mechanism. This will be to increase the consistency of slots and flights plans. “It may include requiring Eurocontrol’s central flow management unit [CFMU] to suspend a flight plan,” he said.

Lehman said the DOT is committed to streamlining the licensing process for EU public transport operators flying into the U.S. Since it started in March, he said, “Sixty-two EU carriers have applied for exemption [to Part 129] and/or permit authority, 33 have been granted authority, 17 have been granted exemption authority to operate pending grant of permit authority and 12 are under review.” Regarding Part 375 authorizations, he said, these have been used very little. “You can apply without a specific flight in mind, get a pre-approval and then get the final nod in three days, once you have specified a flight.”

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