The European Commission’s (EC) slot trading proposal in its “Better Airports” legislative package has split the European Union’s airlines, although all are against the proposed change in the “use-it-or-lose-it” threshold.

The proposal would require airlines to use a slot 85% of the time or risk losing it, raising that threshold from the current 80%. The Association of European Airlines said this will hamper airlines’ ability to react to changing demand (Aviation Daily, Dec. 2).

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also is opposed to raising the threshold, but endorses the slot auction proposal. IATA believes that moving to an 85/15 threshold will limit airlines’ ability to respond to weather and holiday periods, when airlines adjust schedules in response to lower demand. The standard could become a de facto 90/10, an IATA spokesman says.

European Low Fares Airlines Association (ELFAA) Secretary General John Hanlon argued that “there is no consumer benefit to be gained from auctioning of slots in any form.”

Instead, ELFAA says current regulations are “perfectly adequate” and should be enforced more stringently. “This is extremely worrying, as it leaves the door open for a possible amendment, which will permit the primary auctioning of grandfathered slots,” says Hanlon.

The EC dropped plans to permit primary auctioning of new capacity, instead endorsing a secondary market among carriers for existing capacity.