Controllers demand Brussels ease cost-cutting

European controllers are insisting that the severe economic impact of Brussels legislation on air navigation service providers is crippling investment in both infrastructure and people.
Europe’s transport chief Violeta Bulc in a joint statement with Karima Delli, chair of the European Parliament’s transport committee, recently issued a call on member states to work harder to help build a modern and efficient air traffic infrastructure or else risk gridlocked skies. “The bleak reality is that around 50,000 passengers will face delays – every day – of up to two hours in airports across Europe, leading to missed connections and unforeseen costs, Bulc warned, urgin the industry to be far bolder in their approach to ATM modernisation, adding, “the system needs an urgent upgrade. Now is the moment to be bold.”
In response controller union umbrella organisation ATCEUC said their position completely ignored the role that both the Commission and Parliament have played in bringing ATM to its current situation.
“The brutality of legislation around the economic regulation of ANSPs in the previous period has disabled investment in both equipment and people. Therefore, the years 2020-2024 would be crucial for the recovery of the ATM industry. The cost cutting policy should be urgently stopped,” it said.
It said that since 2008, most European ANSPs stopped recruiting sufficient student controllers and that deteriorating employment conditions of qualified controllers and technical staff have forced many to leave the industry.
“While a majority of European states is now opposed to a continuation of the cost cutting policy started in 2008, on the contrary, the Performance Review Body, the European organisation in charge of advising the Commission, is still proposing a drastic reduction of up to 24 per cent of the unit rate for this period.”
ATCEUC is proposing a reasonable increase of ANSP costs of 5 per cent for the period 2020-2024, pointing out that SESAR – now in a phase of maturity – must be an efficient tool with one priority: supporting ANSPs and their staff.
ATCEUC recommends:

  • An increase in an ANSP’s cost base for the third reference period (RP3) of a least 5 per cent for the period 2020-2024;
  • More investment in people and particularly in controllers and technical staff should be launched as a priority;
  • The cessation of attacks against controllers by soe airline lobby groups;
  • An increase in the support for the toolbox for successful social dialogue with personal
    political involvement oat EC and Parliamentary level;
  • More investment in new SESAR technologies.

ATCEUC said these five solutions must now be taken on board by the European Commission and Parliament. “Air traffic controllers are at the heart of this, ” said the ATCEUC which added that it is ‘ready, willing and able to discuss their proposal’.