Govt considers auction of airport departure slots
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In a proposal that could further push the operating cost of domestic airlines, the Civil Aviation ministry is considering auctioning departure slots at major airports in the country. The system is followed at prominent airports in Europe including Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.
"We are thinking of auctioning prime slots at major airports in the country. We may first start it on an experimental basis at some major airports and any decision on expanding it further could be taken at a later stage," Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told The Indian Express.
He said the plan is to try the system for now and making it a policy is still not on the cards. Any airport catering to more than 1.5 million passengers annually is termed a major airport by the government. Airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad currently qualify as major airports.
At present, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation allots departure slots at all airports. The allotment is decided in consultation with the airport operator such as the Airports Authority of India or private operators. The allotments are based on space availability, runway capacity and capacity of the terminal, among others.
Auctioning slots would imply that carriers could lose their existing slots if they are not the highest bidders. Morning and evening departure slots are the most sought after in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai as there is huge passenger demand to fly at these hours.
Revenues earned through auctions by airports in Europe are shared between the airport operator and the government depending on the facility or resource auctioned. Revenue from auctioning terminal space and runway belongs to the airport operator while earnings from auctioning air space go to the government.
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