Hong Kong - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed concern over Hong Kong’s intention to transfer the responsibility for slot coordination at Hong Kong International Airport to the Civil Aviation Department (CAD).

“Slot coordinators appointed by the regulatory authority should be independent and not linked or related to any interested party. This is to ensure the neutral, transparent and non-discriminatory allocation of airport slots. The CAD, which represents the interests of the government, clearly does not meet this criterion,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in a letter to Eva Cheng, Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works.

The requirement for an independent slot coordinator is one of the underlying principles of the IATA Worldwide Schedules Guidelines (WSG). The WSG is recognised by governments worldwide. The European Union, for example, uses the WSG as a key component in the EU’s Slot Regulation. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has also endorsed the need for slot coordinators to be independent.

“The current Hong Kong coordinator has done an excellent job. Their neutrality in performing the coordinator’s role has never been questioned. IATA and its member airlines oppose the need for any local organisational changes in the airport coordination services for Hong Kong,” said Bisignani.

“Hong Kong’s plans to transfer this responsibility to the CAD disregards globally recognised best practices. It also violates the principle of consultation with all interested parties prior to the appointment of the slot coordinator,” said Bisignani. “Hong Kong should abandon this ill-conceived effort.”

Notes for Editors

  • A slot is the scheduled time of arrival or departure available for allocation for an aircraft movement at a coordinated airport
  • Slot coordination is implemented at airports where demand exceeds capacity and it is impossible to resolve the problem through voluntary co-operation between airlines and where, after consultation with all the parties involved, there are no possibilities of resolving the serious problems in the short term. Formal procedures are implemented at the airport to allocate available capacity and coordinate schedules.
  • The primary solution to the problems of airport congestion is capacity increases.
  • It is essential that airport management, together with ATC, airlines and other parties involved, should endeavour to remove or change restricting features so that the airport can reach and sustain its full capacity potential.
  • Schedule adjustments or coordination should only be necessary when all possibilities of developing the limiting components of airports have been exhausted.
  • Principles of slot coordination:
    • Aircraft operations may be classified into the following broad categories :
      • Regular scheduled services
      • Ad-hoc services
      • Other operations
    • In the event of conflict arising between the interests of these different categories, priority should be given to regular scheduled services and then ad-hoc services
    • The basic principle of the slot allocation process is historical precedence, which allows airlines to retain slots, which have been allocated to them, and operated by them to certain operating criteria, in the next equivalent scheduling period.
    • Historical slots must not be withdrawn from an airline as a means of providing for new entrants or any other category of aircraft operator. Confiscation of slots for any reason should be avoided, unless intentional abuse of the coordination system by an airline is proven.
    • Slots may be transferred or exchanged within or between airlines, subject to conditions
    • Slot allocation is independent of bilateral air service agreements. The granting of landing rights does not entitle an airline to airport slots, nor does the allocation of slots to an airline entitle that airline to landing rights
    • Coordination is concerned only with the allocation of airport slots
    • As long as traffic growth continues to outstrip the rate of expansion of facilities at airports, there will be problems with conflicting demands for slots. Every effort should be made to resolve such problems in an atmosphere of mutual co-operation and goodwill.