How do the airlines get the flying slots which they operate on in India? Well, till recently the practice was quite straight forward. The airline was required to file the schedule of its operation, i.e. the times during which it would prefer to fly its airplanes on various sectors, with the Director General of Civil Aviation which is the prime regulator of airlines operations in India and also take care of all the operational safety and security aspects of airlines. Once the airlines file their schedules with the DGCA, the DGCA gets in consultation with the airport operators to fix the slots. During the whole process of consultation, the adherence to the rules of slot allotment, as defined by the IATA’s World Slot Guidelines, are duly kept in mind.
This process is scheduled to change now in India with many airlines, both the cheap air tickets providing LCCs and the full service carriers filing to get the prime slots at the airports of the major metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. With the competition increasing for the prime slots of operation, the DGCA has found it opportune to introduce the system of slot bidding by the airlines, at first on ‘experimental basis’ and for the vacant slots. Thereafter, it is expected to be regularized. This move is expected to make the cheap flights more expensive since the airlines will have to bid at the highest rates for getting these slots. This is not expected to happen immediately since the slots which are vacant will be filled first by this process.
This move is a series of moves which have been taken recently by the DGCA and the Civil Aviation Ministry to put the own house in order for making the Indian aviation sector more streamlined.