???? slot allocation



Nigeria biggest airline to stop Abuja-London route

Related Topics


Deutsche Lufthansa AG
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA
16:35:21 BST

By Joe Brock

ABUJA | Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:51pm GMT

(Reuters) – Nigeria’s biggest carrier Arik Air said it would have to stop its daily flights between Abuja and London because it was being prevented from getting arrival and departure slots at UK airports, an accusation that risked reigniting a diplomatic row.

Arik Air – the only Nigerian airline flying to Britain – said slots it had leased from Lufthansa’s British unit bmi at London’s Heathrow airport were about to expire and it was now facing unspecified “restrictions”.

Investors’ Guide to ISAs
Learn how to get the most out of your ISA & avoid common mistakes
Request Free Guide

“Whilst it is regrettable to have to suspend our services between Abuja and London, we simply could not continue with the route due to the restrictions placed upon us in accessing arrival/departure slots into UK airports,” Arik’s chief executive Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, said in a statement on Friday.

He did not spell out who was imposing the restrictions on the company.

But a similar row over landing slots and ticket pricing between Nigerian and British authorities in November almost grounded all flights between the two countries.

“It is an unfortunate situation and one that we felt was being resolved at government level and we hoped that an agreement would have been reached before the start of the summer schedule,” said Arumemi-Ikhide in the statement.

The suspension did not affect Arik’s flights between London and Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos.

Landing slots at Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, are popular and over-subscribed. Nigeria’s government and Arik Air want the British government to help it get more slots at Heathrow but UK authorities have said it is not their responsibility under a joint agreement between the countries.

Britain and Nigeria have a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) which allows them each 21 equal flight frequencies between the two countries, which their airlines can use.

The UK argues that Nigeria is entitled to 21 flights to the Britain a week but it cannot guarantee them 21 landing slots at Heathrow. Other London airports have slots available.

Arumemi-Ikhide said Nigeria gave UK carrier “unfettered access” to the slots at Nigeria’s Abuja and Lagos airports. “However, this is not reciprocated in the UK,” he added.

The Nigerian aviation ministry was not immediately available for comment on Saturday. It warned last year that it would not “stand idly by while Nigerian flag carriers are unfairly treated when BASA agreements clearly state otherwise.”

Nigerian authorities fined BA and Virgin Atlantic a total of $235 million (148 million pounds) for alleged price fixing in November, which both airlines deny.

The aviation minister has claimed BA flights between London and Nigeria we more expensive than flights covering a similar distance between Britain and Ghana.

Searches on the BA website show flights to Ghana are significantly cheaper than to Nigeria in business class and first class but not in economy class.

(Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Andrew Heavens)





Recent article well worth reading but puts reform of existing slots in the ‘too difficult category’. I realise some of you will already be very familiar with the research SDG did for the Commission on this subject but the article may be a useful summary.
If anyone has any spare funding for research, I think something looking at how the EU’s recently stated aim (in the EU Transport White Paper of 2011) to triple the length of the HSR network by 2030 – an enormous shift in medium distance connectivity – means that a fundamental rejig of grandfather rights is going to be inevitable or there will be even greater market inefficiency.
Other than in peripheral places and for the longest intra-continental flights, HSR and aviation need to largely complement each other in Europe. We simply can’t afford for them to compete significantly – either in terms of the cost to the environment of unnecessary additional runway capacity or the loss of return of the considerable public investment in the HSR networks. [compared to other High Speed Lines, HS2 is predicted to be very intensively used, whereas HS1 & CTRL have not been] This has to be a strong argument for us to push in the DfT’s aviation consultation, whenever it in fact starts. There’s a similar parallel to public transport on the continent where buses and trains provide an integrated service, whereas here they are more likely to compete.
This argument may prove devastating for expansionist economic research, which tends to only consider constrain-capacity and expand-capacity scenarios (e.g. the recent OEF study), rather than a smarter allocation of capacity scenario.
Increasingly we hear how southern European economies are so moribund as they are gerontocratic – jobs are given out not on merit but based on your family connections with the old men (whether Mafiosi or not) who pull the strings. The parallels with the grandfather rights of the aviation industry are striking. I think the argument that the it is the role of the Conservatives to introduce some free market rigour into airports is one that will be difficult for the party to rebut. It goes so much with the grain of their thinking and will make them feel instinctively uncomfortable if they have to oppose it. Is there any way to warm politicians up to this issue in the context of the Civil Aviation Bill – such as through an probing amendment – so that it is something we can really push in the DfT aviation consultations, particularly the part about hub airports?