Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency opens public consultation on new rules for airport slots
Proposals include new parameters for slot allocation and monitoring
The Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency (Anac) has launched a public consultation to receive contributions for a draft resolution that provides new guidelines for slot coordination at airports. The publication was made in the Official Federal Gazette on October 8, 2021 and interested parties may submit their contributions to Anac until December 9, 2021.
In line with its 2021-2022 regulatory agenda, Anac has made this proposal as a result of a previous consultation, intending to encourage competition within Brazil’s saturated airport infrastructure and to discuss the allocation of slots in cases similar to Avianca Brasil, which has ceased operating since 2019 and was declared bankrupt in 2020.
Some of the main points addressed by the draft resolution are outlined below:
Additional airport coordination level
Current regulation in Brazil provides for three airport coordination levels, part of a policy to manage airports with different levels of air traffic and maximize the use of available infrastructure. The draft resolution proposes creating a fourth level for airports with highly constrained airport capacity and a high level of market concentration.
Such a classification will establish specific slot allocation criteria that aim to facilitate the distribution of available slots to new players. Thus, certain restrictions would apply for airlines that already hold a high percentage of slots at a given airport, should they seek to increase their participation.
Anac has justified these restrictions by arguing that they intend to maximize competition in the airline industry, benefitting society by allocating available slots so as to increase contestability.
Slot assignment and exchange
Current regulations do not allow airlines from different economic groups to assign slots to each other, therefore prohibiting a ‘secondary market’ for airport infrastructure.
On the other hand, the draft resolution proposes permitting slot exchange and assignment between airlines, subject to Anac’s subsequent approval. Certain rules will need to be observed in such a case, including:
- The company assigning the slot will be prohibited from receiving available slots for three equivalent seasons (summer or winter), unless there are no other interested companies;
- Only slots with a recognized history for three consecutive equivalent seasons may be assigned, including between companies within the same economic group; and
- For airports under the proposed fourth coordination level, operating airlines may only receive slots if their slot share at the airport is equal to or less than the limit established in the coordination statement.
Furthermore, exchanging slots that have been allocated to new players will be prohibited, except in specific cases.
Updating current rules
With a dynamic global market and airport infrastructure seemingly under ever-increasing demand, changes to international practices can occur regularly. In recent times, the Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines has sought to establish more standardized and consistent practices around the world.
Thus, the draft resolution aims to bring Brazil’s slot regulations closer in line with international standards. For example, it establishes a definition of slots in line with international practices and expands the criteria for monitoring how slots are used.
While still maintaining rules already established by current regulations – such as respect for slot history and how new requests are allocated – the draft resolution’s changes are based on good international practices, promoting competition and a more equal distribution of the available slots.
Essentially, the proposal seeks to place greater value on the efficient use of allocated slots, promoting slot trading in a way that facilitates new companies’ entry into the market.