Italy's ENAV lowers free route threshold

ENAV, the Italian air navigation service provider, will now allow all air traffic to plan a direct route through its airspace without referring to the traditional route network above 9,000 metres.
This innovative procedure – called Free Route – allows airlines to fly the best route without restrictions as regards trajectory, improving flight efficiency, fuel savings and hence lower harmful emissions into the environment.
Free Route is a procedure laid down in the EU Single European Sky regulations which all European countries must comply with by 2022.
With implementation four years ahead of schedule, ENAV became the first among the five major European service providers to implement this procedure in December 2016, initially setting the free route altitude at 11,000 metres.
It is estimated that by lowering the Free Route altitude to 9,000 metres, an additional 70,000 flights will benefit, with an average saving per flight of about 22.8 km for a total of over 1.63 million kilometres annually and resulting in fuel savings of about 7 million kg and a reduction in CO2 emissions into the environment of 21 million kg. The overall expected economic benefit for airlines is estimated at about €5 million.
When Free Route became available in 2017 to aircraft flying above 11,000 metres, airlines  saved 30 million kg of fuel and CO2 emissions were reduced by 95 million kg. It should be noted that ENAV handled more than 1.8 million aircraft movements in 2017 and 30 per cent of these were overflights i.e. those that do not land at or take off from Italian airports.
ENAV chief executive Roberta Neri said: “Our main mission is to ensure the best service and highest safety standards for all airlines flying over the Italian skies. But today we are also called upon to achieve this with an increasingly customer-oriented approach. This definitive development of the Free Route procedure is a clear demonstration of the technical and, above all, capabilities that ENAV is able to field thanks to continuous training of our operating personnel and investments in technology that confirm the company’s position as a major player on the international stage in terms of service quality and innovation.”