Commercial Air Routes: United Kingdom and East Africa - 13 February 2019
Asked by Lord Popat
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that new commercial air routes between the United Kingdom and East Africa are allocated sufficient and convenient departure slots at either Heathrow or Gatwick airports.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con)
My Lords, UK airport slot allocation is based on worldwide guidelines from the International Air Transport Association—IATA. These guidelines provide for slots to be allocated independently of government in a non-discriminatory way. The Government recognise the difficulty of obtaining slots at highly constrained UK airports, and the much-needed additional capacity from Heathrow expansion will ease that constraint, enabling us to maintain and develop long-haul connectivity, including to developing economies such as Rwanda and Uganda.
Lord Popat (Con)
I thank the Minister for that helpful response. Almost two years ago, I helped RwandAir launch direct flights between London and Kigali, but I found that securing convenient landing and departures slots was practically impossible at Gatwick or Heathrow. The problem is that the biggest airlines, including budget airlines, have a monopoly over peak-time slots through grandfathering rights, meaning that newer airlines are squeezed out. Does the Minister agree that, given our country’s need to build commercial bridges with Africa post Brexit, we need a better and fairer system to ensure adequate access to those markets? Will she assure us that the Government will look urgently into reforming the allocation system?
The full debate can be read through the following link: