Airline Takeoff and Landing Slots

Department of Transportation's Slot Allocation Rule Gao ID: RCED-86-92 January 31, 1986

In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) reviewed available documentation concerning the Department of Transportation's (DOT) slot allocation rule for airlines; (2) identified the issues to be addressed; and (3) developed a list of specific questions for Congress to consider.

GAO reviewed documents available in the public record concerning the slot allocation rule, including: (1) a DOT evaluation of the rule; (2) records from a House subcommittee hearing; and (3) testimony given at a DOT public hearing. GAO noted that the Federal Aviation Administration proposed the slot allocation rule to overcome inefficiencies in how airlines obtain or exchange takeoff and landing slots under the current system, by replacing the scheduling committees' allocations with an open-market system to facilitate the sale, leasing, or trading of slots between incumbent and new entrant airlines. GAO identified several areas for further inquiry relating to the adequacy of the DOT evaluation of the rule's economic, competitive, legal, and administrative impacts, specifically: (1) compliance with an Executive Order requiring a complete regulatory analysis of any rule significantly affecting economic or competitive conditions; (2) identification of the problems with the existing system; (3) identification and analysis of the issues associated with other alternatives to the slot allocation system; (4) the competitive issues associated with the slot rule; and (5) the impact on airline service to small communities under the Essential Air Service Program.

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