Montreal - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) signed a three-party commitment to a Flight Efficiency Plan with EUROCONTROL, and CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation).

The aim of the plan is to expedite efficiency improvements in European air traffic management to achieve annualised savings of 470,000 tonnes of fuel per year in a six-month work programme. This will save EUR390 million and reduce CO2 emissions by over 1.5 million tonnes.

“The air transport industry is in a perfect storm of high fuel costs and falling demand. Airlines are expected to lose US$5.2 billion this year and another US$4.1 billion next. Saving fuel is critical to survival and to improving environmental performance,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Saving fuel must be a team effort,” said Bisignani who signed the agreement with Alexander ter Kuile, Secretary General of CANSO and David McMillan, Director General of EUROCONTROL in Montreal. All three were attending a symposium on future air traffic management organised by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Flight Efficiency Plan focuses on improvements in five areas:

  • Enhancing en-route airspace design to optimise distances flown. A potential reduction in distance flown of 0.1% has been identified (equivalent to 4 million nautical miles per year) with potential savings of EUR20 million per year.
  • Improving airspace utilisation with enhanced civil/military cooperation and better coordination of flight planning. Potential reductions in distance flown of 0.7% have been identified (equivalent of 30 million nautical miles per year) with potential savings of EUR150 million per year.
  • Improved terminal area procedures, including continuous descent approaches (CDA). Implementing CDA at even 20% of Europe’s airports would save EUR100 million annually.
  • Improved airport operations, particularly reducing taxi times. A one minute reduction in taxi times at Europe’s 50 top airports would save EUR120 million annually.
  • Improving awareness of best practices to save fuel.

The plan comes in addition to the substantial efforts to improve the performance of the European Air Traffic Management Network. Between 1999 and 2007, while traffic grew 25%, the total delays caused by lack of air traffic control capacity fell by 66%. At the same time, routes flown were shortened on average by approximately 4 km. Together these improvements generated 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 savings per year.

“Every drop of fuel saved improves environmental and financial performance. This joint effort by airports, air navigation service providers and airlines will deliver tangible results in a short time frame. It is a leadership example for others to follow,” said Bisignani.

View Giovanni Bisignani's speech

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of international scheduled air traffic.