The project

The current European Regulation for airport slot allocation, which retains and develops the principles of the IATA slot allocation process, has been proven insufficient to cope with the gap between capacity and traffic, and there is evidence that the design of the current process is neither consistent with an economically efficient use of capacity nor with the facilitation of fair competition at congested airports. Market-based mechanisms are expected to provide the right economic incentives to favour a more efficient use of the available capacity, as well as higher flexibility for airlines to adapt their slot portfolio to their business objectives and planning constraints; but they also imply a number of risks, ranging from the potentially negative impact on airline operating costs to market imperfections, exercise of market power, or market failures.

ACCESS addresses airport slot allocation from the perspective of complex adaptive systems. Due to the complexity of the combinatorial assignment problems underlying primary slot auctioning and secondary slot trading, agent-based computational economics provides a particularly suitable framework to undertake a rigorous and formal study of different alternatives for market design, allowing the modelling and exploration of features — such as bounded rationality, evolutionary behaviour or asymmetry of information — that are not properly captured by classical approaches from economics and operations research.


The project has first analysed the current mechanisms for slot allocation in Europe and the practical experiences with auction-based mechanisms in other sectors, which has served as a basis to formalise different possible designs for market approaches to airport slot allocation. We have then built a test environment which includes a stylised model of the air transport network and the behavioural models of the air transport stakeholders. Finally, we have defined a number of relevant scenarios and have made use of the newly developed models and tools to assess the impact of the proposed market-based mechanisms.


To find more about the project results, check out the Publications section.