HungaroControl wins unique NATO mandate in Europe

HungaroControl will remain the only air navigation service provider in Europe to control the airspace of a non-neighbouring country.

On behalf of NATO, it has been agreed that it will control for an indefinite period the upper airspace over Kosovo. HungaroControl has been providing service in Kosovo’s upper airspace since 2014, 700 kilometres away from its headquarters in Budapest.

“This cooperation is a major success. There is no other country in Europe whose air navigation service provider is managing the airspace of a non-neighbouring country,” said Hungarian government minister Andrea Bártfai-Mager.

“There has been a significant increase in Kosovo’s upper airspace, the so-called KFOR sector,” said Kornél Szepessy, chief executive of HungaroControl. “Almost 116,000 aircraft were controlled in 2018, which is 30 per cent of the total aircraft movement in the last five years.”

During the NATO mandate, Hungarian air traffic controllers have been responsible for the safety of 394,000 aircraft transiting the upper airspace of Kosovo and in 2019, HungaroControl expects a massive increase in traffic.

“The number of aircraft movements this January-February is already nearly 7 per cent higher than in same period of 2018, and in the upper airspace above Kosovo we have experienced an average growth of 42.5 per cent over the same period,” the chief executive added.

According to estimates the reopening of Kosovo’s upper airspace for civilian aircraft in 2014 has reduced the average route distance by 685,000 kilometres per year, which means 24,000 tonnes of fuel saved and 75,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide emissions generated.

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