Slot Allocation Guidelines

  1. “Governments and regulators should recognize the Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines when creating slot allocation policies and we urge capacity-constrained airport operators to define the most efficient level of capacity and for airlines to use available capacity to avoid wasting scarce airport capacity.”.
  2. This paper proposes a novel multi-objective Priority-based Slot Allocation Model (PSAM) that optimizes slot allocation, while complying with the complex set of priorities and requirements specified by the IATA guidelines, as well as with the declared capacity constraints at the airports.

Rules on the allocation of airport slots have big ramifications for airline competition and market access for low-cost carriers, which were making ever deeper inroads before the pandemic.

Allocation of time slots at EU airports



It seeks 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 as coordinated* or schedules facilitated* on the grounds that its capacity is insufficient.
  • 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 must ensure the appointment as airport coordinator or schedules facilitator of a qualified individual or legal entity 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.
  • 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 any relevant information requested by the coordinator.

Coordination committee

  • The EU country responsible must 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 (known as grandfather rights). Consequently, slots which are not sufficiently used by air carriers are reallocated (the so-called ‘use it or lose it’ rule).
  • Slot pools may be set up 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 why 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 must ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are available to deal with this type of situations.


The original regulation has been amended 5 times

Slot Allocation Guidelines 2013

  • in 2002, following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, to allow air carriers to maintain slots allocated to them for 2001 during summer 2002 and winter scheduling season 2002/2003 (Regulation (EC) No 894/2002);
  • in 2003, to take account of the war launched against Iraq and the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome to ensure that the non-utilisation of slots allocated for the 2003 season does not cause air carriers to lose their entitlement to those slots (Regulation (EC) No 1554/2003);
  • in 2004, to clarify the application of the existing regime on a number of different points, including the independent status of coordinators and the functioning of slot allocation procedures (Regulation 793/2004/EC);
  • in 2009, in view of the global economic and financial crisis, to ensure that the non-utilisation of slots allocated for the summer 2009 scheduling period does not cause air carriers to lose their entitlement to those slots (Regulation (EC) No 545/2009);
  • in 2020, in view of the COVID-19 crisis, to ensure that the non-utilisation of slots allocated for March 2020 (and for routes to China and Hong Kong for the period of 23 January-29 February 2020) and those allocated for entire summer 2020 scheduling period do not cause air carriers to lose their entitlement to those slots (Regulation (EU) No 2020/459).


It has applied since 22 February 1993.


  • Following communications which it published in 2007 and 2008 on the application of the regulation, the European Commission issued a proposal to recast the regulation in 2011. The proposal is under scrutiny in the legislative procedure between the Council and the European Parliament.
  • For more information, see:
    • Air slots (European Commission).


Slots: 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.
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.
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.


Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 of 18 January 1993 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports (OJ L 14, 22.1.1993, pp. 1-6)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

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Iata Slot Allocation Guidelines


Slot Allocation Guidelines For A

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 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, 30.4.2008)

Slot Allocation Guidelines 2019

Communication from the Commission on the application of Regulation (EC) 793/2004 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports (COM(2007) 704 final, 15.11.2007)

Slot Allocation Guidelines 2020

last update 11.05.2020