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Soapbox - Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO)

Graham Lake, CANSO

Graham Lake, Director General, Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) Airlines and associations have the greatest ability to help ANSPs change the system

The Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) has a long record of working with the airline community and it remains a core aim to help air navigation service providers (ANSPs) react positively to evolving customer needs.

During a period of economic crisis, it is clearly not possible for ANSPs to carry on, seemingly immune from the effects of the global downturn. And indeed, CANSO members have not. Within the constraints of the system, ANSPs have made great efforts to cut costs and keep charges down: wage cuts, employment freezes, halts to investment and reductions in staff—all have been used, and we have seen a real determination to resist the more militant union demands.

Unfortunately, in common with the rest of the aviation industry, ANSPs have not managed to reduce costs faster than the fall in revenues. Consequently in some cases, a funding shortfall is a real possibility, and this has to be mitigated.

ANSPs themselves have very limited ability to change the institutional system in which they operate. They can try to influence things internally, through persuasion and argument, but their governments, unwilling to risk greater cash exposure themselves, will rarely welcome change. So we increasingly rely on external parties (airlines and others) to help convince governments to change.

It is usually the airlines and their respective associations that have the greatest ability to help ANSPs change the system.

CANSO is prepared to help. We have stated publicly on several occasions that the cost recovery model is no longer fit for purpose, and needs reform. Our European members in particular set out last year a six-point plan for states to consider. It’s worth going over these points again, because they form the basis for a joint approach by industry partners to driving reform:

  • To be fully committed to the Functional Airspace Bloc implementation in order to achieve a defragmentation of European airspace
  • To accelerate the implementation of the Performance Framework of Single European Sky Package 2 (SES2), while ensuring full consultation, in order to move from the cost recovery principles to a system that introduces incentives to performance
  • To stabilize or even reduce the Eurocontrol Agency cost-base, and to concentrate Eurocontrol efforts on SES 2 implementation, SESAR program and flight efficiency plans
  • To limit state costs (meteorological information costs, regulatory state costs, taxes, pension costs, etc) in the air navigation charges
  • To provide ANSPs, where appropriate, with treasury facilities, subventions or low-rated loans, in accordance with state aid rules, to help them to face the loss of revenues resulting from a crisis
  • To encourage state funding for new investments and the modernization of the ATM infrastructure

Were these elements to be put in place, it would undoubtedly have a positive effect on the performance and costs of European ATM in particular, and I urge the airline community to work with CANSO to lobby effectively for these reforms to be put in place.

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