Delays likely in Europe’s understaffed centres

A small number of Area Control Centres in Europe could face delays this summer, especially if they are confronted with staffing issues, major ATM system upgrades or airspace reorganisation.

The STATFOR Medium-term Forecast published in February 2012 predicted that between 2012 and 2014, the average annual baseline traffic growth will be 1 per cent at European level.

Since then, the Two-year Forecast on Flight Movements published in May 2012 confirmed that traffic has been quite close to the previous forecast within Europe, even though the arrivals/departures and European overflights have not grown as much as was predicted. The result to mid-May is an accumulated difference of 0.36 percentage points below the February forecast.

Delays this summer are likely to remain above the target at a small number of Area Control Centre (ACCs) facing a shortage of qualified controllers and unresolved staff management issues. Planned reductions in capacity during the implementation of major ATM system upgrades and/or airspace structure reorganisations in some ACCs could also push delays up.

“It is likely that States on the critical South-East axis (the region stretching from Turkey, including Italy, the southern part of Germany and Moldova) will continue to experience increased growth in local demand. This inescapable fact highlights the continuing need for robust capacity planning – and the need to focus on the timely implementation of enhancement measures,” said Eurocontrol, Europe’s Network Manager.


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