Which airlines have the most take off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport?
We thought we’d take a look. We have taken the data from Airport Coordination Ltd, which runs the slot allocation programme. The numbers below are for the full winter season which runs from late October until late March (22 weeks).
Here are the 25 airlines with the most slots at Heathrow
‘Slots held’ is the total number of individual slots for the entire winter flying season divided by the number of weeks.
Two slots are required per flight. Virgin Atlantic, for example, has 392 slots which equals 196 return flights per week.
|Airline||Slots held||% of total|
|Swiss International Air Lines||168||1.82%|
|Delta Air Lines||164||1.78%|
|KLM Royal Dutch Airlines||144||1.56%|
|TAP Air Portugal||76||0.82%|
|ITA – Italia Trasporto Aereo||52||0.56%|
Unsurprisingly, British Airways comes out on top with over 50% of all slots allocated (the grand total of slots across all airlines is 9220 per week, so 658 departures per day). This is an order of magnitude more than Virgin Atlantic which has a meagre 4.25% in comparison.
The list doesn’t adjust for common ownership. In reality, Lufthansa Group has many more slots than it seems because they are listed by individual airline, rather than the group as a whole. In theory you could add in SWISS, Eurowings and other Lufthansa Group airlines to their total.
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 new requests are published by Airport Coordination.
The largest demands for fresh slots for Winter 2023 were from British Airways (154 per week), Loganair (76), ITA (68), Aurigney (56), Virgin Atlantic (56) and Emirates (48). These would be slots which come up from airlines forfeiting their existing ones due to non-use.
British Airways and Loganair succeeded in gaining some new slots. New airlines include LATAM Peru, which is launching daily direct flights to Lima this winter, as well as Tunisair and Croatia Airlines. Not all airlines which receive slots end up using them, as some require at least one daily slot pair to make it worthwhile.
Slot allocation by alliance
Let’s take a look at Heathrow slot allocation by airline alliance. Looking at all airlines, oneworld comes out on top with 60% of the slot allocation. This isn’t surprising given that British Airways, a oneworld member, is the single largest Heathrow slot holder.
Star Alliance trails with 18% whilst SkyTeam is barely in the same league with just over 10%. This is a substantially better performance than in previous years, before Virgin Atlantic joined SkyTeam.
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||16.6%|
In such a scenario, Star Alliance has the same number of slots as its competitors combined.
The numbers vary again when you take into consideration Aer Lingus and Eurowings, who are not officially part of an alliance but are strongly affiliated to an alliance member. Aer Lingus is oneworld focussed given its ownership by IAG. Eurowings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa and therefore closely aligned with Star Alliance:
Heathrow slot allocations based on alliance and core partnerships: