A Look At The Biggest Airport Slot Deal In History Where $75 Million Changed Hands – Simple Flying

Early morning landing slots are perfect for business travelers.
While many global airlines can freely establish flights at international airports, this is not true for the busiest airports worldwide. Facilities such as New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) and London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) have restricted slots that must be purchased before establishing a route.
These slot pairs (landing and takeoff) are coveted and run in millions of dollars. Since most airlines want to fly to such global hotspots, airport slots are challenging to get.
Oman Air, Oman’s national carrier, reportedly paid $75 million to acquire a busy morning slot at LHR in 2016. As noted by Aviation Week, It is one of the most expensive landing slot transactions in recent times. The slot pair allowed Oman Air to land at LHR every day in the morning timeframe, use airport facilities, and perform a return flight in the early afternoon.
An airport slot is permission to land or take off (generally granted as a pair) at the airport and use the airport infrastructure. Either independent or government authorities administer slots. At busy airports, slots are constrained by the number of aircraft movements the airport can handle. This depends on airport capacity, personnel, resources, and safety compliance.
The busiest airport in the United Kingdom, London Heathrow (LHR), is heavily slotted due to its limited space and widespread interest among global carriers. Airport slots at LHR are highly restricted and sold at a premium when available.
Global legacy carriers aim to purchase, operate, and keep such coveted slots. LHR slots have been changing hands for hefty amounts in recent years due to the US airlines’ wish for lucrative trades and Middle Eastern Airlines’ aim to funnel passengers through their hubs.
The Gulf carrier aspires to expand its operations like the three big Middle Eastern airlines, namely Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. In 2016, the airline spared a large chunk of money to purchase a slot pair at LHR. The sought-after morning slot cost the airline a whopping $75 million. While the initial news suggested that the slot was purchased from the Air France-KLM Group, it was later confirmed that the airline bought it from Kenya Airways.
Early morning landing slots at LHR are some of the most expensive, and the value decreases as the day progresses. The early morning is perfect for business travelers who can leave Muscat (MCT) in the early morning hours and begin their work-related activities in London at the start of the day. Moreover, travelers who intend to connect to other destinations within Europe or the Americas have many connections available through LHR. It was the second daily slot for the carrier, adding more frequency to the metropolitan city.
The $75 million slot meant Oman Air would fly passengers departing at 0100 hours local time from MCT and arrive at LHR at 0530 hours local time. The return flight would leave LHR at 0830 hours and arrive at MCT at 1900 hours. It is worth mentioning that the airline is currently not using this slot for operations. Today, Oman Air arrives at LHR at 1825 hours and departs for a return flight to MCT at 2005 hours. The airline uses a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the route.
What are your thoughts on the recent most expensive airport slot deal? Have you traveled through Oman Air on this route? Share your experience in the comments section.

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Writer – Omar is an aviation enthusiast who holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. With numerous years of technical and research experience under his belt, Omar aims to focus on research-based aviation practices. Apart from work, Omar has a passion for traveling, visiting aviation sites, and plane spotting. Based in Vancouver, Canada

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