Airlines for Europe (A4E), a trade association for European airlines, is urging the European Union and various governments to take immediate action concerning Europe’s ATM (Air Traffic Management) system. The move comes as a result of growing flight delays and cancellations that have plagued European airspace due to poor traffic management and other issues.
According to certain reports, the situation is bound to become worse in the future. 2018 has already been pegged as the worst year for ATC, in terms of flight cancellations and delays.
Thomas Reynaert, the Managing Director of Airline for Europe, told the media that various transport ministers from Europe had met on the 3rd of December, where they were believed to have discussed various options to tackle the traffic management problems that are causing the surge in delays and cancellations.
Reynaert added that the crisis had to be addressed as soon as possible. He mentioned that EU’s failure to come up with a solution would cause significant damage to the European economy and also, the airline industry.
According to the reports from Eurocontrol, the staff shortages and general reduction of capacity within ATC led to a 50% increase in flight delays for the month of October. As for the whole of 2018, Eurocontrol estimates that the total delay minutes will likely go up by 53% compared to last year’s figures. In 2017, the total delay minutes were put at 9.3 million minutes. In 2018, it is expected to touch 14.3 million minutes.
This year, carriers that are a member of Airlines for Europe were said to have canceled over 5000 flight due to ATC strikes. These cancellations affected around 800,000 passengers. Millions more were said to have been affected by flight delays that were caused as the result of issues such as residual backups, airspace diversions, and ATC staff shortages.
Airlines for Europe believes that the most effective solution to eliminate inefficiency in airspace would be to launch a “seamless European sky.” The objective here would be to integrate national airspaces into a single continuum across Europe. This would allow all EU member states to cooperate better across borders while still maintaining the sovereignty of their national airspace. More importantly, it would aid in the creation of efficient flight operations.
An Expensive Outcome
The current situation is proving to be very expensive. According to a report from PwC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers), the economic impact of the ATC strikes, from 2010 to 2017, cost around €13.4bn and is expected to grow further.
Last year, the European Commission published reports showing that there had been around 357 ATC strikes since 2005. 254 of these strikes had taken place in France.
The A4E (Airlines for Europe) is the largest airline association in Europe. Based in Brussels, the organization advocates on behalf of various airline companies (members) to implement aviation policies for European skies that will benefit consumers and ensure the continuity of a competitive and safe air transport market.