How much are those Heathrow landing slots worth?

Now that Open Skies is in full effect, carriers left and right are scrambling to take advantage of all of the sweet landing slots in the EU’s congested airports.

Case in point, London‘s Heathrow Airport. Most travelers flying into the United Kingdom prefer landing at Heathrow because of better connections and proximity to London via the Tube. But landing slots at LHR are all full, so whenever one opens up, competition is hot to fill it in. Similarly, carriers want to hold on to their high-value slots to make sure that any competition doesn’t come in and snatch up some capacity.

So what do you do when you can’t book enough passengers to justify flying in and out of your slot? This case might show up if, say hypothetically, you’ve been cutting capacity like crazy to save cash and demand is low because travel is so expensive. Sound like any economy you know?

In that case, what do you do with your landing slot? Well, according to BMI, or British Midland Airways, you keep flying. Without passengers.

British Airways did the same thing earlier this year to try to preserve landing slots and we figured that the subsequent disgust with their MO combined with the price of fuel would be a deterrent for other carriers to do the same thing. But I guess those slots are just too valuable.

Why not at least auction off the empty seats on the aircraft? I know that you have to pay flight attendants if you have passengers onboard, but I feel like you can make enough to pay a few employees and offset the price of jet fuel a bit. But I guess that would make too much sense.