3.50 - ASAP – Airport Slot Allocation Processes: Advances in Current Guidelines and Practices (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029725)

Project Description

Many airports worldwide currently face severe capacity shortages, and need to implement demand management mechanisms. The dominant such mechanism outside the United States is the IATA slot allocation process. According to this process, “slots” are allocated bi-annually to the airlines to operate each take-off and landing. It is currently applied at the 175 busiest airports worldwide (classified as “Level 3”). Slot allocation is carried out by coordination entities that must follow a set of complex priority rules specified in IATA’s World Slot Guidelines. In this activity, those entities are assisted by specialized software packages. However, existing packages have limited optimization capabilities, and it has been shown that their application may lead to slot allocation decisions that are not necessarily the best possible.

In line with the previous statements, the ASAP project pursues two major goals:

  • To develop an optimization approach fully compliant with the IATA guidelines to assist slot coordination entities. This approach will be based on a multi-objective optimization model that takes into account the concerns of the stakeholders in the slot allocation process, i.e. airlines, airports, and their users.
  • To analyze the impacts of possible changes to the IATA guidelines on airport capacity utilization. As the current guidelines were established in an ad hoc manner, it is very plausible to hypothesize that their fine-tuning may lead to significant improvements in flight schedules and airport operations.

For carrying out the project, we have built a team based on two Portuguese research centers, CITTA and INESCTEC, and two international consultants, Professors Amedeo Odoni (MIT) and Alexandre Jacquillat (Carnegie Mellon U.). Air transport planning (airports and airlines) is one the main research foci of CITTA, whereas INESCTEC has long been working on advanced optimization techniques. Prof. Odoni is a world-leading expert on airports, and has supervised Prof. Jacquillat in his PhD work on airport capacity management in the United States (where, in general, IATA guidelines are not applied). This team will have the collaboration of the slot coordination entities of Portugal (ANA) and Brazil (ANAC). In particular, these collaborations will allow us to test the results of our research using high-quality real data from the airports of Madeira, Porto, Lisbon and Sao Paulo (GRU).

Through the ASAP project, we expect to advance slot allocation guidelines and practices in a very significant manner and contribute to substantial improvements in the utilization and management of airport capacity worldwide. We look forward to provide substantial benefits to airlines, airports, their users, and the economies as a whole, and therefore attract extensive international attention to the research work carried out in Portugal in the field of air transport.

Research Team


  • António Pais Antunes (coordinator


  • Maria Antónia Carravilla (co-coordinator)
  • José Fernando Oliveira
  • Lia Patrício

1 Researcher with a PhD (to hire)

1 Grant-holder with a MSc (to hire)

Financial Support
Stage of Progress
  • Started in 2018