Which airlines have the most take off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport?
The issue of Heathrow slots will be back in the news this Summer, with airlines forced to fly a slot at least 70% of the time in order to stop it being lost. This may even lead to some operators running ‘ghost flights’ with no passengers.
We thought, to put all this discussion in context, we’d look at how take-off and landing slots are actually distributed at Heathrow.
We have taken the data from Airport Coordination Ltd, which runs the slot allocation programme. The numbers below are for a random week in the Summer season (w/c 5th September) which runs from late March until late October.
Here are the 25 airlines with the most slots at Heathrow
‘Slots held’ is the total weekly number of individual slots for the week of 5th September. Two slots are required per flight. Virgin Atlantic, for example, has 394 slots which equals 197 return flights per week.
|Airline||Slots held||% of total|
|Delta Air Lines||162||1.67|
|TAP Air Portugal||88||0.91|
Unsurprisingly, British Airways comes out on top with over 50% of all slots allocated (the grand total of slots is 9,680 per week, so 690 departures per day). This is an order of magnitude more than Virgin Atlantic which has a meagre 4.1% in comparison.
The list doesn’t adjust for common ownership. Lufthansa used to be No 2, for example, before transferring many slots to its low cost offshoot Eurowings. In theory you could add in SWISS and other Lufthansa Group airlines to their total too.
Flybe remains on the list because it has been agreed that ‘new’ Flybe, which is not yet flying but which bought the assets of the old airline, can retain Flybe’s Heathrow slots. We will find out tomorrow (Tuesday 22nd) if the ‘new Flybe’ will be flying from Heathrow this Summer, as it publishes its first set of routes.
Aeroflot should retain its slots as there are exceptions to ‘use it or lose it’ for airlines which cannot fly for geo-political reasons.
Who is a likely taker of slots which airlines do not want to fly?
As it happens, we know which airlines are keen on Heathrow slots because the list of failed applications is published by Airport Coordination.
The largest demands for slots for Summer 2022 were from Italy’s ITA (98 per week – I assume they have inherited Alitalia’s slots too?), Loganair (96), Blue Air (72), Aurigny (56), Wideroe (52) and Air China (42).
These airlines were, between them, allocated a grand total of zero slots. The issue is which of the airlines would be interested in a one season slot loan as opposed to permanent slots.
As we covered on Sunday, Loganair has managed to pick up 14 slots per week to run a daily Isle of Man service from Heathrow this Summer.
Slot allocation by alliance
Let’s take a look at alliances. Looking at the top 25 airlines, oneworld comes out on top with 65% of the slot allocation.
Star Alliance trails with 16% whilst SkyTeam is barely in the same league with just over 6% of the total.
All data below is based only on the top 25 slot holders, albeit that the top 25 control 89% of slots:
Heathrow slot allocations by airline alliance:
The numbers look very different when you take British Airways out of the equation:
Heathrow slot holders by alliance, without British Airways:
|oneworld exc BA||6.9%|
In such a scenario, Star Alliance has more than double the slots of its competitors.
The numbers vary again when you take into consideration Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic, who are not officially part of an alliance but are quite strongly affiliated with one. Aer Lingus, for example, is oneworld focussed given its ownership by IAG. Virgin Atlantic is a SkyTeam partner in all but name thanks to its joint ventures with Delta, Air France and KLM:
Heathrow slot allocations based on alliance and core partnerships:
Star Alliance remains unchanged whilst the inclusion of Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic give oneworld and SkyTeam a boost.