MUAC report highlights good progress

European air traffic trends last year showed a welcome return to growth after three years of downturn and stagnation.
The rise in air traffic at Maastricht Upper Airspace Control Centre (MUAC) amounted to 4.9 per cent, although a large part of this was due to the bounce-back of traffic following the volcanic ash crisis of April 2010 and the impact of heavy snowfalls in December of the same year.
In 2011, MUAC handled more than 1.5 million flights, achieving a new traffic record of 5,163 flights handled in a single day.
Service quality was maintained with delays at unprecedented low levels – an average delay of 0.04 minutes per flight, or 99.8 per cent of unimpeded flights. Moreover, thanks to improved macro-economic conditions and the effect of further cost-containment, costs were reduced. This resulted in a total economic cost per flight-hour of €238 – a 10.5% decrease on 2010 levels. A further reduction in charged costs of €12.8 million was achieved following changes in accounting principles.
Eurocontrol said considerable headway was also made in MUAC’s flight efficiency objectives as a consequence of a number of airspace redesign initiatives undertaken as part of the FABEC Function Airspace Block work package, in particular Free Route Airspace. Flight efficiency is now monitored on a standard basis so that the objective of reducing route extension as well as emissions can be met.
Other initiatives, described in detail the 2011 Annual Report, contributed to the overall strategy of streamlining airspace usage by enhancing cooperation between the different partners. In particular the cooperation agreement signed earlier this year between the Netherlands and Eurocontrol for the provision of ATS data services by MUAC to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is a significant stride towards a rationalisation of civil and military resources and a major contribution to enhanced safety. This is an important development which lays the foundation for shared data services in the European region.