Select Committee on European Communities Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 180 - 186)



  180.  Our impression thus far in the enquiry is that secondary slots are indeed traded at the moment and sometimes for very large sums of money. What I thought you said was that you would be in favour of trading in secondary slots which said to me that it was not happening at the moment. Surely it is happening. I cannot believe all the press in the world are wrong about this. Does such trading take place?

  A.  When we went into this in trying to come up with sensible solutions to the questions that you have raised we were told by our experts that secondary slot trading is currently not done, at least as far as Lufthansa is concerned. If in the course of slot allocation we are allocated slots that are sub-optimal we would then want to exchange them, but there are only extremely rare instances where they are actually traded.

  181.  I am sure you can only speak authoritatively for Lufthansa, but do you have the impression that other airlines do physically and financially trade in slots?

  A.  They may do, but I am not in a position to claim that they actually do.

  182.  I appreciate that. Why I am raising this particular point is going back to the proposals, which you do not like and you have made that very clear, from DG IV that certain alliances should give up a certain number of slots at certain airports, if these are actually physically and financially being traded now then it is beyond me how an airline can be told to give up something that is actually worth a great deal of money.

  A.  It is certainly worth a great deal of money and we have done calculations on that to determine what the amount of money is and that depends on the specific slots in question——

  183.  Of course, the time of day, the route, etc.

  A.  They do have a value. We were given to understand that there is a dispute going on between DG VII and IV about whether or not they should be traded and DG VII is in the process of developing a new slot code of conduct which foresees that they can be traded, which by implication means that they cannot be traded now. We are told by our experts that the wording of the current code of conduct is a little ambiguous on that point and so some carriers believe that they are entitled to trade and others believe that they are not and we tend to believe that we are not. Certainly DG VII wishes to make it clear that they can be traded. DG IV, however, does not want to see them being traded, which is why this slot code of conduct has not yet seen a revised version.

  184.  If the Commission were able to agree a competition policy with the US—and that is a big "if"—would you be in favour of the proposal being applied only to US transport links, limiting it to the transatlantic run?

  A.  Yes, I would. If we had a bilateral arrangement in place with a country such as the United States that would require a structured competition policy to be enforced, one that cannot, however, be implemented in relation to other countries in the absence of such an agreement with the Community. Only to the extent that there is a Community agreement in place with a third country can competition policy be enacted by the Community in relation to that specific country. So if there were to be an aviation agreement with the United States we would have, hopefully, a coherent competition policy reinforced in our relations with the United States, but only with the United States.

  185.  How happy or unhappy would you be if DG IV was the sole arbiter?

  A.  If we could receive assurances that DG IV are to implement the competition policy in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Council we would reluctantly live with that situation.

  186.  Mr Schulte-Strathaus, I think on that note we should finish. You have given us a lot of your time and again can I say how grateful we are for you taking the trouble to come from Hamburg to give us your evidence. Perhaps you could leave your opening statement behind as there is a lot of meat in that and we would need to read that again. If we do have any queries on it perhaps we could get in touch with you.

  A.  I would be delighted.

Chairman]  Thank you very much.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998