How to Overcome Airports with Slot Issues: Part 1 – Slot Basics and Tips
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on airports with slot issues.
More and more airports are requiring slots due to congestion issues, and these slot requirements differ depending upon the airport in question. For example, some airports require you to obtain slots prior to applying for a landing permit while others require airport slots for parking or arrival/departure permissions. At many locations airport slots are more challenging to obtain during high-traffic event periods or during peak operating hours/ seasons.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. General slot considerations
Examples of airports that require slots include Nice (LFMN), Geneva (LSGG), Stansted (EGSS), Luton (EGGW), Frankfurt (EDDF), Changi (WSSS) and Dubai (OMDB). At many locations worldwide slots can be much more difficult to obtain during periods of high-traffic events – such as the Cannes Film Festival for LFMN, and St Petersburg International Economic Forum for ULLI. At many popular destinations with heavy scheduled airline activity – including Sao Paulo Guarulhos (SBGR) and Heathrow (EGLL) – obtaining airport slots is often challenging year round. Also, at locations such as LFMN, the airport slots are tied directly with the parking, which is another consideration when traveling here.
2. Special format slot requests
Some airports have special slot request formats. For example, you’ll use General Aviation Clearance Request (GCR) format when submitting slot requests for Hong Kong, Germany or the United Arab Emirates (UAE). At many locations airport slot requests are submitted by handling agents, on the operator’s behalf, and information that goes into these requests is often coded, very specifically and must be organized in a certain line-by-line manner. Requests are often forwarded to slot coordinators via different means – including email, fax, AFTN or SITA. If there are errors in a slot request you’ll usually receive notification to correct these errors. In some cases you’ll be advised on what the issue is while in other cases you may not. If an operator or handler uses on online website to submit airport slot requests no particular request format may be needed, but certain information must be included in order to be successful with your slot request. In most cases you’ll need to resubmit a slot request if there are errors in the original request.
3. Request procedures
Each airport has different processes/procedures in terms of slot requests and issuance of slots. In some cases requests may be sent directly to the airport slot office by 3rd-party providers, while in other cases your handler must submit any slot requests. Some slot coordinators require slot requests to be submitted in particular or special formats. At certain locations you may have the option to submit slot requests via a website while at others you may need to request slots via AFTN or SITA. Some airports are good at announcing/publishing slot request procedures and changes while others are not. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that you only find out about slot request procedure changes after submitting a slot application.
4. Lead time considerations
There are no rules of thumb in terms of recommended slot request lead times. Best practice is to request slots as early as possible in order to ensure availability. Once airport slots have been confirmed it’s recommended to avoid schedule revisions that may impact confirmed slots. For some locations it’s best to submit airport slot requests well in advance – perhaps one month out, or in the case of EGLL, three months in advance. At other locations – including WSSS – airport slots may not requested earlier than seven days prior to the estimated time of arrival. Airport slot deviations vary depending on the airport. WSSS, for example, has slot validity of +/- 55 minutes, while ZBAA is +/- 30 minutes, LFMN is -5/+10 minutes, and LSGG has zero slot tolerance. Some airports are more stringent than others about slot deviations, and some will fine you for missing a confirmed slot.
5. Additional reading: Airports with Slot Issues – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
Final notes before part two in this series
Note that for many airports you’ll need to include your slot confirmation ID in the remarks section of the flight plan. When an airport slot is revised you may be issued with a new slot number, so it’s important to ensure that your flight plan has the correct slot ID noted. In some cases airport slots are tied to parking and in some cases they are not.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers slot challenges for your destination.
If you have any questions about this article or need assistance arranging your slots for your upcoming trip, contact me at email@example.com.