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Allocation of time slots

Allocation of time slots

With the increase of air traffic, there is a continuously growing demand for capacity at congested airports. Slots, that is to say the permission to land and take-off at a specific date and time at congested airports, are essential for airlines' operations. Slots will be distributed in an equitable, non-discriminatory and transparent way by an independent coordinator. The aim of the EU framework is to ensure the fullest and most efficient use of existing capacity at congested EU airports while maximizing consumers' benefits and promoting the competition.


Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 of 18 January 1993 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports [see amending acts].


The aim of this regulation is to ensure that where airport capacity is scarce, the available landing and take-off slots * are used efficiently and distributed in an equitable, non-discriminatory and transparent way.

The regulation lays down the objective criteria on the basis of which an airport can be designated "coordinated" or "schedules facilitated" on the grounds that its capacity is insufficient.

European Union (EU) countries can designate any airport a "coordinated airport" * provided that a capacity analysis is carried out and there is a serious shortfall of capacity which cannot be resolved in the short term.

Coordinator / Schedules facilitator

The EU country responsible for a coordinated or schedules facilitated airport * ensures the appointment as airport coordinator or schedules facilitator of a qualified natural or legal person with extensive experience of the coordination involved in planning the movements of air carrier aircraft. The coordinator / schedules facilitator acts in a neutral, non-discriminatory and transparent manner and should be functionally separated from any single interested party. Moreover, the system of financing the coordinator’s activities will be such as to guarantee the coordinator’s independent status. The same coordinator may be appointed for more than one airport.

Airport capacity

Airport slot capacity available for allocation is determined twice yearly by the competent authorities, according to the two programming 'seasons' (winter and summer) in place in international aviation. Calculation of an airport’s capacity is based on an objective analysis of the possibilities of accommodating the air traffic.

Air carriers must provide the coordinator with any relevant information requested by him.

Coordination committee

The EU country responsible shall ensure that a coordination committee is set up at a coordinated airport. The coordination committee makes proposals and advises the coordinator on all questions relating to the capacity of the airport, and in particular opportunities to increase capacity, coordination parameters, methods of monitoring, and local guidelines. Membership of this committee is open to:

  • air carriers using the airport;
  • the managing body of the airport;
  • air traffic control authorities;
  • general aviation representatives.

Procedure for allocation of time slots

The general principle regarding slot allocation is that an air carrier having operated its particular slots for at least 80 % during the summer/winter scheduling period is entitled to the same slots in the equivalent scheduling period of the following year (so called grandfather rights). Consequently, slots which are not sufficiently used by air carriers are reallocated (the so called "use it or lose it" rule).

The Regulation provides for the setting up of "pools" containing newly-created time slots, unused slots and slots which have been given up by a carrier or have otherwise become available.

The coordinator also takes into account additional rules and guidelines established by the air transport industry and local guidelines proposed by the coordination committee and approved by the EU country or any other competent body responsible for the airport.

If a requested slot cannot be accommodated, the coordinator informs the requesting air carrier of the reasons therefore and indicates the nearest alternative slot.

Slots may be exchanged or transferred between airlines in certain specified circumstances (for instance, partial or total takeover, or transfer to a different route or traffic mode). In such cases, explicit confirmation from the coordinator is always required.

An EU country may reserve certain slots for regional services.


An air carrier's flight plan may be rejected by the competent Air Traffic Management authorities if the air carrier intends to land or take off at a coordinated airport without having a slot allocated by the coordinator. If an air carrier repeatedly and intentionally operates air services at a significantly different time from the allocated slots or in a significantly different way, the coordinator may decide to withdraw from that air carrier the series of slots in question. Consequently, that air carrier may lose its grandfather rights. EU countries shall ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are available to deal with this type of situations.

Key terms used in the act

  • Slot: a permission given by a coordinator to use the full range of airport infrastructure necessary to operate an air service at a coordinated airport on a specific date and time for the purpose of landing or take-off.
  • Schedules facilitated airport: an airport with a potential for congestion at some periods and where a schedules facilitator has been appointed to facilitate the operations of air carriers operating or intending to operate at that airport.
  • Coordinated airport: an airport with a high level of congestion where demand exceeds capacity during the relevant period and where, in order to land or take off, it is necessary for an air carrier to have a slot allocated by a coordinator.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EEC) No 95/93



OJ L 14 of 21.2.1993

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 894/2002



OJ L 142 of 31.5.2002

Regulation (EEC) No 1554/2003



OJ L 221 of 04.9.2003

Regulation (EC) No 793/2004



OJ L 138 of 30.4.2004

Regulation (EC) No 545/2009



OJ L 167 of 29.6.2009


Communication from the Commission of 30 April 2008 on the application of Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports, as amended [COM (2008) 227 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 15 November 2007 on the application of Regulation (EC) 793/2004 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports [COM/2007/0704 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 06.07.2010