As most of us already know, European aviation is plagued with delays. For instance, last month alone saw a spate of delays and cancellations that affected several thousand flyers. The growing number of delays is clearly a signal that things need to change in the European aviation industry.
According to Eurocontrol’s data, airlines across the continent experienced 135,000 minutes of in-flight delays per day last month. That is a total of 94 delays per day. What’s even more shocking is that this is more than double the number of delays recorded in 2017.
Some of the most notable carriers in this regard are RyanAir, EasyJet, IAG, and Air France-KLM.
Causes of delays
The delays were attributed to a range of factors. However, the most common cause happened to be system or computer failures. More than 50% of flights were delayed to system failures across the whole continent. The ETFMS or Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System, which moderates air traffic, suffered an error, which led to the chaos.
Brussels airport was the worst affected by the system failure, with several flights being cancelled or delayed. In fact, the airport had to set a ten per hour limit on the number of flights allowed to take off.
Strikes were the second most common reason for delays and cancellations. ATC strikes in France were primarily to be blamed. The strikes prevented flights from entering or leaving the country.
This was followed by more strikes from Spanish Air Traffic Control, which led to chaos during the holiday season. Several flights to destinations such as Ibiza, Menorca, Majorca, and Barcelona had to be cancelled.
Needless to say, concerned authorities are looking for a way to solve the problem.
The European Commission has initiated the Single European Sky project to help with managing aviation in Europe. The program will allow for flight capacity to be increased while minimising disruptions. As of now, the project has turned 40 individual airspaces into nine blocks that function without consideration for state boundaries.
The blocks simplify the management of flights due to the fact that there are fewer airspaces now. However, there has been some criticism against the project. Some countries feel that it would be a threat to the sovereignty of the airways.
According to Claire Davies, the Director of an aviation consultancy firm, the results of the project have been unimpressive. She stated that she understood why airlines would have a problem with the project. She also pointed out that traffic levels have actually gone up and the number of delays as well.
So, it’s clear that the statistics published by Eurocontrol should not be ignored. There is no doubt that the aviation situation in Europe needs to improve drastically. The delays and cancellations up until now have already taken a toll on the reputations of the various airlines operating within this space. Significant changes are the need of the hour.