A4E urges the European Union to remove airspace inefficiencies and prevent another capacity crisis

European airlines are calling on Brussels to radically reform airspace architecture and unlock more efficient routes to deliver faster routes and improved punctuality while cutting emissions.

The chief operating officers of Europe’s leading airlines which account for nearly half a billion passengers per year met in Brussels today at the Vision for Airspace 2025 event to urge the European Union to tackle the bottlenecks affecting European airspace.

Participants at the forum organised by airline grouping A4E included leaders from across the European aviation industry including: A4E member airlines and manufacturers, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), Eurocontrol, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the European Commission, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA), SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) and many others.

The airlines, association of air navigation service providers (CANSO), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and Eurocontrol have now signed up to the A4E Efficient Airspace Declaration. In doing so they have also pledged to ensure that:

·   initial projects from the European Commission’s Airspace Architecture Study and Wise Persons Group are jointly agreed and launched in early 2019;
·  the Eurocontrol Network Manager implements a coordinated approach to oversee the operation of the network for summer 2019;
·   the Eurocontrol Network Manager defines and implements network measures with airlines and providers so that there is sufficient capacity for 2019;
·     any new regulation is future-proof and takes into account current operational and technological advancements.

A4E said: “The reputation of Europe is at stake. Reform of EU airspace must be a top priority for the next Commission and all involved national bodies. Passengers deserve an efficient European aviation industry and that can only be delivered with a seamless approach to EU airspace.”
Eurocontrol’s statistics show there were 9.32 million minutes of en-route delays in 2017. By the end of 2018, this figure is expected to increase by 50 per cent.

“The Eurocontrol Network Manager is working collaboratively with the air navigation service providers as well as with airlines on a number of urgent quick win network measures that we believe will help manage the air traffic management system in 2019. It’s really essential that all parties work together over the coming months in order to minimise potential delays next summer,” said Eamonn Brennan, director general, Eurocontrol.

With its Seamless European Sky vision, A4E is calling for the creation of a future airspace which seamlessly integrates the different national airspaces under a single operational concept. EU member states will maintain sovereignty of their airspace while cooperating across borders in order to facilitate seamless and more efficient flight operations on behalf of passengers.

CANSO said its members and Eurocontrol’s Network Manager had recently agreed a set of actions to enhance the network measures for summer 2019, including addressing airspace bottlenecks and network collaborative decision – making processes to optimise air traffic flow management regulations for management of en-route weather, to name a few. It insisted that any measures to tackle capacity constraints need to consider all actors – airspace users, airports, Network Manager and the air navigation service providers themselves.

“The pressure is on to accelerate the pace of change given the air traffic growth and diversity of air vehicles taking to the skies today and in the coming years. This is not something that can be achieved by any one stakeholder alone. We as a community need to harness the technologies that are already there to enable a scalable and networked ATM system across Europe,” said Florian Guillermet, executive director, SESAR Joint Undertaking – a public-private partnership set up by the European Union and Eurocontrol to modernise air traffic management.

“IFATCA welcomes the collaborative approach from A4E and other stakeholders at the COO Forum. We are convinced that collaboration is the only way forward. Such initiatives will enable the significant changes that are needed to improve the performance of the European aviation network,” said Tom Laursen, executive vice president, Europe,  International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations.

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