23-Jul-2013 10:40 AM

Jet Airways sale of London Heathrow slots to Etihad not an Indian Government issue: Ministry

India's Ministry of Civil Aviation clarified (22-Jul-2013) the issue of the sale of slots by Jet Airways to Etihad Airways at London Heathrow Airport, noting "there is a confusion that trading of slots at Heathrow and allotment of international traffic rights to the Indian carriers by the Ministry of Civil Aviation are the same thing". The Ministry noted the entitlements/allotments of traffic rights to Indian carriers and availability of slots at foreign airports are two different matters, explaining: "In the case of slot allocation at Heathrow Airport, Government of India or any other Civil Aviation Institution in India has no role to play. This is purely a function of Airport Coordination Limited of Heathrow Airport and the concerned airlines". As a result, Jet Airways' transfer of three pairs of slots to Etihad Airways at Heathrow requires no approval from the Government of India/Ministry of Civil Aviation, although Jet Airways obtained permission from Reserve Bank of India under FEMA because foreign exchange was involved in the trading. The Ministry also noted Air India has four pairs of slots at Heathrow. Until winter 2012, Air India was utilising two pairs, leasing the remaining two to Delta Air Lines. The lease of one pair expired in winter 2012 and since then Air India has started utilising this allocation, so it now utilises three slot pairs, with one still leased to Delta. The Ministry also outlined the following about slot trading at Heathrow: "The data regarding slot trading, during the last 12 years, received from Heathrow Airport clearly shows that during 12 years, slot trading has increased from 42 slots in 2000 to 526 slots during 2012. It also shows that while the pool available of slots in 2012 was only 22 against which pool allocation of 20 slots was done by the Airport Coordination Limited whereas 526 slots were traded through transfers which clearly shows that slot trading is a very common practice at Heathrow Airport. Most of the airlines including SWISS, British Airways, Virgin, Qantas, Delta, Continental, Flybe, Air Jamaica, Air France, Air India and Jet are involved in slot trading/transfer for the last 15 years". [more - original PR]

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