Airport slot allocation policy could clip Kingfisher’s wings

Vijay Mallya

There may be more bad news for the debt-ridden and grounded Kingfisher Airlines, which stands to lose its slot allocations at various airports if the changes proposed by the civil aviation ministry to slot allocation guidelines come into effect.

Sources said the civil aviation ministry has made up its mind to cancel the take-off slot allocation for any airline that does not utilse them for a period of one month. Also, under-utilisation of allotted slots will mean lower preference in slot allocation in the next season. These changes are part of the revised guidelines for slot allocation being proposed by the ministry, sources said. The proposed changes in the slot allocation guidelines will also allow an airline facing financial difficulties to enter into a dialogue with the coordinator to discuss their future intentions for the slots.

Current guidelines do not have provision for slot cancellation of any airline. According to experts, guidelines are opaque as there is no system to assess the availability of slots, especially at Level 3 airports. Also, there is no mechanism to cancel allocated slots if the airlines fail to utilise them for a specified period. Because of this, there have also been many complaints about airlines blocking the slots without utilising it.

Speaking to FE, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said his ministry was working on a revised slot-allocation policy which will be "transparent" and "better co-ordinated". "We want to make the entire slot allocation policy transparent. As of now, it is arbitrary. The new changes would ensure that the slots are allocated in a transparent manner and better co-ordinated," he said.

The airports at present are categorised into three levels — one, where the airport capacity is adequate to meet the demands, second, where there could be congestion but can be resolved by better cooperation between the airlines and third, where there are a capacity constraints.

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