Capacity becomes first casualty of cost control

European air traffic control is managing to achieve greater cost effectiveness but at the expense of higher delays, according to a new benchmarking report.
The Eurocontrol Performance Review Commission’s (PRC) latest ATM Cost-Effectiveness (ACE) Benchmarking Report examines the cost-effectiveness and productivity of 38 European air navigation service providers (ANSP) in 2016, the latest year for which actual financial data are available, based on information submitted last July.
“The ACE 2016 Benchmarking Report shows that at pan-European system level, over the 2011-2016 period, ANSP costs remained fairly constant in a context of traffic growth, resulting in cost-effectiveness performance improvements,” said said Ralph Riedle, PRC chairman who added, “on the other hand, when considering an economic costs perspective (combining ANSPs’ costs and ATFM delays), it appears that a significant part of these cost-effectiveness improvements were offset by a new cycle of continuously higher ATFM delays which started in 2014.”
Riedle said it would be important that in future years ANSPs continue to manage their costs carefully but, at the same time, ensure that they provide sufficient ATC capacity to minimise delays to the travelling public.
He added that, in response to stakeholders’ requests, the PRU has developed an interactive web-based dashboard comprising ACE data since 2002. This dashboard allows its users to make customised analysis of ANSP cost-effectiveness performance; it comprises additional features as proposed by ANSPs and has just been updated to reflect the latest 2016 data.
The ACE Report also examines changes in ANSPs cost-effectiveness over 2011-2016 with a strong focus on the underlying performance drivers such as controller productivity, employment costs and support costs.
It also provides an outlook of the performance planned over the five year cycle covering 2017-2021. This year, the ACE 2016 Benchmarking Report also includes a new chapter examining ANSPs balance-sheet structure and capital expenditure, which also comprises high level information on the FDP systems that are operated by the European ANSPs.