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Takeoff and landing efficiency at an airport seems to depend on a number of factors, like number of runways and gates, infrastructure maintenance, weather, or even notorious traffic congestion in some area. Indeed ATC minimum separation applies too, as well as noise protection.

Is there a coordination between ATC, airlines, and airports to reduce the number of scheduled arrivals based on the actual arrival capacity? Or can airlines just schedule more flight than possible and create delays at the landing airport.

Side-question: If the number of arrivals is controlled, how are airlines requests handled, is there some rule for fair sharing of the most requested time slots?

In case the answer greatly varies by countries, then I'm interested in the US and EU situations and possibly a comparison.

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    $\begingroup$ Short answer: it depends on airlines bargain power. In US it is quite common but not possible in rest of the world. $\endgroup$ – Him Sep 2 '15 at 23:44
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I'll answer for the US. As long as there's no official slot program, airlines can schedule however much they want to an airport, beyond what it should be capable of handling.

Now that doesn't mean ATC lets a free-for all happen. Hopefully, various traffic management units are on it and aware of how much demand is scheduled and already airborne into the airport/region/area that there's too much demand, and will implement various flow control programs to moderate the volume to what can be accepted into a specific sector(Certain airways can get super busy and require these types of actions), or airport. These control programs will either slow aircraft farther out from their destination, hold, or give small to longer delays on the ground, depending on how over scheduled or limitations of weather at the destination.

[Begin edit poriton] Since the other part of the question wasn't there when I first answered, I'll answer now. Slot controls vary heavily from airport to airport. In the US, LGA, LGB, DCA, SNA, and at times JFK are slot controlled, with a few others threatened to go to slots due to how many delays they impact the system(SFO, EWR, and ORD). How each airport deals with the slot allocation is different due to how they got slot controls. DCA is controlled partly through congress, LGA and SNA are restricted due to noise controls. In the US, once an airline gets a slot, often times it's considered transferable property, so airlines can sell them to each other if needed.

Now if a slot isn't used and goes back to the airport, the airport can put it up for bid, or allow applications for it, again depending on how their program is structured. AT DCA, some slots are transferable, some require an act of congress to change or modify, and some can only be used for certain routes or types of cities.

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    $\begingroup$ May be similar in Europe. Recently, due to construction work in Brussels, my flight BRU-PRG was 2 hours delayed. It actually was delayed on the previous leg PRG-BRU; people were sitting in the plane and waiting to take off, but the plane did not receive a flight plan confirmation -- the traffic control simply didn't let the plane take off because it couldn't land. $\endgroup$ – yo' Sep 3 '15 at 17:15
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Yes, in the U.S. each metered airport (major airport) has what we call an AAR (Arrival Acceptance Rate) which varies sometimes hourly depending on weather and runways in use. One day the scheduled flights might get in with no delays, and the next many could be delayed by hours if the AAR goes down. This is managed by our flow control system which takes the current AAR for each airport and looks at pending departures for that airport and spaces out the departure times so that the AAR isn't exceeded. We call this the "EDCT" time (expected departure clearance time) and it shows up on the flight strip for ATC and is sent to the airline's dispatch office. A flight might be scheduled to depart at 12 noon, but their EDCT time might be 12:37 and they're supposed to plan their pushback and taxi so they're "wheels up" at that time.

You can see the standard AAR's at http://www.fly.faa.gov/ois/ (click on east or west directory, then the appropriate Center and airport). LAX for example in VMC conditions using 25L/24L and R for approach has a 74 aircraft-per-hour AAR, but if it's foggy (low IMC) and they're using only 25L and 24R, the AAR drops to 58 per hour. If 70 are scheduled to arrive in some given hour, on a first-come-first-serve basis the computer will put out EDCT times to spread them out so only a max 58 will arrive in that hour, and the rest get bumped out to the next (and on and on).

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For any Airport, if the demand is more than the capacity.Then those airports are categorized as Level 3 airports for which Slot Coordination is a must. Ex: - For these kind of airports, If an Airline wants to operate in Summer S17, then Airline should be having grand father rights which is gained by operating in Summer S16. And yes, if there is any remaining or empty slot, any airline can apply for it. It is a very trasparent process.

In these kind of airports, if the airline is misuinng the slot then there is huge penalty to be paid and also very good chances of loosing the grand father rights.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer sounds very specific to a certain country or area. Please include in the answer where it applies. $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jul 5 '17 at 15:22

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