China to Trial Competitive Slot Allocation at Two Key Airports

  • For private airlines, fairer process versus state-owned rivals
  • Carriers to bid for slots at Shanghai Pudong, Guangzhou Baiyun

China will start trials of competitive slot allocation at two key airports next year, aiming to inject more transparency and level the playing field for privately held airlines competing against state-owned incumbents.

Airlines can participate in a ballot for new slots at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport from next month, and are able to pay for desired timings, while new slots at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport will be allocated by auction, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a notice on its website dated Dec. 4. 

The 196 new weekly slots to be added at each airport next year will be split evenly between domestic and international routes, the administration said. Slots are valid for three years, during which carriers will be allowed to exchange, transfer or lease them in the secondary market. To participate in the trial, Chinese airlines must have two straight years of a clean safety record.

Guangzhou Guangzhou Baiyun and Shanghai Pudong were two of China’s three busiest airports last year, according to CAAC data. China Eastern Airlines Corp. is based at Pudong, while China Southern Airlines Co. counts Guangzhou Baiyun as its base.

— With assistance by Clement Tan

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