Airlines vent fury at European ANSPs

The leaders of 34 major European airlines have rounded on some of Europe’s largest air traffic control institutions for their lack of progress on unifying the region’s severely fragmented airspace.
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas met with the airline chief executives in Brussels, where just hours before European leaders held a summit to discuss prospects for European Union (EU) growth.
They issued the European transport chief with the warning that Europe’s economic recovery could be jeopardised if regulators do not create the conditions that airlines need to stimulate growth for other industries and the wider economy.
“We welcome the Commission’s efforts to push through the Single European Sky, but we are furious that the largest EU Member States are simply not delivering,” said Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz. “This fragmentation is ridiculous and unacceptable. The Commission must stand firm, rejecting every national performance plan that falls short of the EU-wide target. We will give them our full support in this initiative.”
The EU warned in December that progress reports on the Single European Sky initiative indicated that the project risks missing crucial targets.
“There is a genuine risk that we will lag behind and find ourselves unable to satisfy the rising demands of air travel, which is set to nearly double by 2030,” said European Commission transport chief Siim Kallas at the time. He stressed that 2012 would be a ´make or break year´ for the Single European Sky.
The Commission´s ´traffic light´ assessment showed a large majority of Member States to be in the orange or red zones and at risk of not meeting critical targets for 2012.
For 2012, the EU has established four key goals: the performance scheme, setting key targets; the nine functional airspace blocks to be operational by the end of 2012; the network manager, which has already been designated as Eurocontrol; and the launch of the deployment phase of SESAR, the technological arm of the Single European Sky (from 2014), moving from the R&D phase to the rollout of new equipment and technology.
The assessment allowed the EU to highlight serious cause for concern in relation to two of the four major elements within the Single European Sky project, the performance scheme and the functional airspace blocks.