Examination of witnesses (Questions 180
THURSDAY 18 JUNE 1998
180. Our impression thus far in the enquiry
is that secondary slots are indeed traded at the moment and sometimes
for very large sums of money. What I thought you said was that
you would be in favour of trading in secondary slots which said
to me that it was not happening at the moment. Surely it is happening.
I cannot believe all the press in the world are wrong about this.
Does such trading take place?
A. When we went
into this in trying to come up with sensible solutions to the
questions that you have raised we were told by our experts that
secondary slot trading is currently not done, at least as far
as Lufthansa is concerned. If in the course of slot allocation
we are allocated slots that are sub-optimal we would then want
to exchange them, but there are only extremely rare instances
where they are actually traded.
181. I am sure you can only speak authoritatively
for Lufthansa, but do you have the impression that other airlines
do physically and financially trade in slots?
A. They may do,
but I am not in a position to claim that they actually do.
182. I appreciate that. Why I am raising
this particular point is going back to the proposals, which you
do not like and you have made that very clear, from DG IV that
certain alliances should give up a certain number of slots at
certain airports, if these are actually physically and financially
being traded now then it is beyond me how an airline can be told
to give up something that is actually worth a great deal of money.
A. It is certainly
worth a great deal of money and we have done calculations on that
to determine what the amount of money is and that depends on the
specific slots in question
183. Of course, the time of day, the route,
A. They do have
a value. We were given to understand that there is a dispute going
on between DG VII and IV about whether or not they should be traded
and DG VII is in the process of developing a new slot code of
conduct which foresees that they can be traded, which by implication
means that they cannot be traded now. We are told by our experts
that the wording of the current code of conduct is a little ambiguous
on that point and so some carriers believe that they are entitled
to trade and others believe that they are not and we tend to believe
that we are not. Certainly DG VII wishes to make it clear that
they can be traded. DG IV, however, does not want to see them
being traded, which is why this slot code of conduct has not yet
seen a revised version.
184. If the Commission were able to agree
a competition policy with the USand that is a big "if"would
you be in favour of the proposal being applied only to US transport
links, limiting it to the transatlantic run?
A. Yes, I would.
If we had a bilateral arrangement in place with a country such
as the United States that would require a structured competition
policy to be enforced, one that cannot, however, be implemented
in relation to other countries in the absence of such an agreement
with the Community. Only to the extent that there is a Community
agreement in place with a third country can competition policy
be enacted by the Community in relation to that specific country.
So if there were to be an aviation agreement with the United States
we would have, hopefully, a coherent competition policy reinforced
in our relations with the United States, but only with the United
185. How happy or unhappy would you be if
DG IV was the sole arbiter?
A. If we could
receive assurances that DG IV are to implement the competition
policy in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Council
we would reluctantly live with that situation.
186. Mr Schulte-Strathaus, I think on that
note we should finish. You have given us a lot of your time and
again can I say how grateful we are for you taking the trouble
to come from Hamburg to give us your evidence. Perhaps you could
leave your opening statement behind as there is a lot of meat
in that and we would need to read that again. If we do have any
queries on it perhaps we could get in touch with you.
A. I would be
Chairman] Thank you