New European ATM targets ‘rewarding failure’

The European Commission is rewarding failure with the latest set of targets for the European ATM industry, according to an European airline organisation chief.

Commenting on the targets, International Air Transport Association (IATA) regional vice president for Europe, Rafael Schvartzman said they do not do nearly enough to drive ambition and reward best practice within the industry.

Instead, IATA said the European Commission has moved to appease influential member states by drawing up EU-wide targets which cover safety, capacity, environment and cost efficiency – that are among the lowest set in almost a decade.

In a statement, IATA added to Schvartzman’s beliefs that the targets display a lack of ambition from the European Union regarding aviation, saying that the targets are ‘nowhere near challenging enough’.

“The lack of an efficient ATM system is damaging the EU economy and continually inconveniences passengers,” said Schvartzman.

“If a customer suffers constant poor quality service from her mobile phone provider, she can switch to another provider. But airlines and their passengers have no choice but to use the European ATM network, which is why strict targets – and tough consequences for missing them – are essential if we are to get the service quality we need. The Commission is rewarding failure when it should be pushing for excellence.”

He said the proposals for the third reference period (RP3) of the EU’s Aviation Strategy, which runs from 2020-2024, will also hamper the delivery of the Single European Sky (SES).

Delays doubled in 2018, with the average en-route delay per flight almost four times the SES target at 1.73 minutes. IATA said the RP3 targets compound such problems by rewarding non-performing air navigation service providers.

On safety, the air transport association said that although current performance is satisfactory the issue of safety must always strive for improvement, while ATM savings of up to 30 per cent detailed in a recent EC benchmarking study could increase cost-efficiency and make a difference to hard-pressed airlines in the region.

Commenting on the environment, IATA said that with an issue of such critical global importance, European states should focus on improving ATM flight efficiency rather than imposing taxes on passengers.

“Not only do these targets fail to tackle the immediate concerns of rising costs, delays and emissions, they also fail to bring us closer to a Single European Sky,” said Schvartzman.

“The European Commission’s flagship project for the future connectivity of the continent will continue to stall unless they get a grip and ensure the carrot of a modernised European airspace is matched with a big stick to make ANSPs take action.”

For more information on RP3, click here