Germany is reaching ‘peak air’ with its airline industry accepting that it must apply the brakes on growth while the nation sorts out its capacity crunch.
Airline industry body BARIG which represents 100 German and international airlines said it met with the country’s air traffic control agency Deutsche Flugsicherung DFS last week at its annual meeting and agreed that the number of flights at some airports should not be increased in order to maintain a quality and punctual service throughout German airspace.
It admitted that since mid June, capacity bottlenecks had caused ‘noticeable flight cancellations, delays and many dissatisfied customers’. Indeed, full page advertisements in all the mainstream German newspapers were published by the German Aviation Association (BDL) in August and signed by all of the significant German aviation players including Lufthansa’s Carsten Spohr and DFS chief Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, apologising for the poor service to travellers over the summer.
In terms of improved air traffic control, they also called on the German government to support moves for a stronger initiative by the European Union and its member states to overcome the fragmented organisation of ATC in Europe and the non-uniform integration of civil and military aviation.
At the latest meeting which was attended by Robert Schickling, DFS operations chief, it was agreed that ‘joint action has to be intensified for more efficient passenger security processes, border and customs controls, modernisation and expansion of infrastructure and more capacity in airspace’.
“Now all players in the industry as well as authorities and politicians have to work on joint solutions,” said BARIG secretary general Michael Hoppe at the general meeting of the association.
ATM industry newsletter Aviation Intelligence Reporter recently highlighted the growing crisis in German airspace against significant growth in traffic across Europe.
“Overall, traffic is up by 3.5 per cent. On current trends, that will be 6.7 million flights for the year. Sadly, delays too are breaking all records. Currently, we stand at 13.6 million minutes of en-route delay, and before year end we are likely to see more than double the 2017 en-route delay total of 9.3 million minutes. To be clear, this is en-route delays only. Airport and runway issues are over and above these numbers.
“The [European] network handled 411,044 flights in the first two weeks of August alone, of which 23 per cent were delayed and 51 per cent of those delayed flights were delayed by more than 15 minutes. Furthermore, whereas last year the average delays across all flights … was 1.7 minutes, this year it is the much more notable 4.1 minutes. That translates into an average delay amongst delayed flights of 21 minutes.”
AIR believes the problem stems from the fact that ‘each sector looks at its part of the problem and decides that it cannot be fixed because all the other pieces are missing, or not ready, or is selfishly focusing on their own concerns instead of looking for common solutions’.
“Missing from the mea culpa is an analysis of, or indeed an admission that, the current immediate malaise is planning and resourcing at Karlsruhe [one of Germany’s four area control centres]. It is not like there is no data available. But that is forgivable if the focus really does stay on the bigger concession that the EU – note, not the EC – and more importantly, the member states, must pull their weight. To date, the focus has not been on the role the member states and the EC play.”