Europe’s busiest airports could carry 28 million more passengers every year without further expansion or extra runways, according to a report.
The study, ordered by the European commission, said more efficient use of takeoff and landing slots could absorb some congestion, according to the Press Association.
Demand already exceeded capacity most or all of the day at six European airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Paris Orly, Milan Linate, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.
Some major European airports were planning to expand and may be able to cope with increases but others, including Heathrow, were not and faced worsening “capacity constraints” the report said.
There are currently 26,000 flights using Europe’s airspace every day, with estimated growth of 5% a year.
Better planning and use of slots alone could generate more than €5bn in economic benefits by 2025, the report estimates.
EU transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, said: “We have been concerned that the current system of allocating takeoff and landing slots at airports is inefficient, giving rise to delays and congestion.
“This has now been confirmed by today’s report, showing that up to 28 million more passengers could travel each year through Europe’s airports.”
The commissioner said he intended to propose legislation this year to tackle the issue.
The study, drawn up by an independent transport planning consultancy, said problems with the current slot allocation arrangements at Europe’s airports not only causes congestion but hinders competition between airlines.
The system of slot co-ordination cannot generate more airport capacity, the report said, but the way slot allocation is organised should ensure that limited capacity is used as effectively as possible.
“At some airports this does not occur because of factors that include a significant proportion of small aircraft, limiting the number of passengers that can be transported within the constrained capacity,” the report said.
Despite significant new competition in the European air transport market, including the growth of low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair, the system of “historical preference” makes it very difficult for new entrants to challenge the dominant position of traditional airlines at the most congested airports.
The turnover of slots remains very low, with established carriers having little incentive to give them up “even when other carriers could use them more effectively than they could”.
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[via The Guardian]