Cross-border free routes focus for Austria

Austro Control’s efforts in cross border airspace optimisation continued during 2016 with eventual free route benefits pegged at fuel savings of up to 13,000kg and CO2 emissions by as much as 43,000kg every day.
The Slovenian Austrian Cross-Border Free Route Airspace (SAXFRA) project was implemented during 2016 in cooperation with the Slovenian air navigation service provider (ANSP) will enable airspace users to fly between predefined entry and exit points using the most direct route possible.
SAXFRA is the first cross-border free route airspace without vertical or time-based restrictions with almost all of the previous airways in SAXFRA airspace having now been removed.
At the World ATM Congress held in Madrid in early March, Austro Control and the Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian ANSPs signed a memorandum of cooperation aimed at merging the SAXFRA and SEAFRA (South-East Axis Free Route Airspace) free route airspaces.
The South East Common Sky Initiative will serve to optimise the South-East Axis, significantly shortening routes between central and southern Europe, and those for flights en route to Turkey and the Middle East. Austro Control said the partnership between SAXFRA and SEAFRA is a major step towards achieving the European Commission’s goal of creating a common European free route airspace by 2022.
Meanwhile, Austro Control’s 2016 revenues rose by 5.4 per cent to €293.4m, and profit before tax was €7.2m, while the profit after tax was €5.7m. Equity rose from €80m in 2015 to €85.7m in the reporting period, while the equity ratio remained stable at 17.6 per cent.
Air traffic volume in Austria edged up by 0.5 per cent in 2016, while in Europe as a whole, traffic growth was a robust 2.8 per cent. Total landings at Austria’s six airports fell by 2.8 per cent although Vienna held up relatively well, with landings down by just 0.5 per cent.
Customer satisfaction for air navigation services remained at an high level, while the result for the aviation agency improved once again.
“We can be very satisfied with our results for last year. Besides our positive financial performance, we succeeded in further improving customer satisfaction and made progress in meeting the targets of the Single European Sky initiative by driving forward the free route airspace optimisation process,” said Austro Control chief executive Heinz Sommerbauer.
2016 also saw improvements in the most important safety indicators. The maturity of Austro Control’s safety management system increased to more than 92 points, placing Austro Control among the world leaders by this measure.
Austro Control was again one of the Europe’s best-performing ANSPs in terms of punctuality in 2016. At just 0.07 minutes, there were barely any delays in en route flights, compared with an average delay of 0.86 minutes per flight in Europe as a whole. The figures for terminal traffic punctuality were also excellent.
“2016 was also a highly successful year from an operational perspective, as reflected in our strong performance in safety and punctuality. In both areas, Austro Control has firmly established itself as one of the leading ANSPs in Europe over the past few years,” said Austro Control chief operating officer Thomas Hoffmann.