Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) applauded the new vision of the Spanish government to reform AENA, the country’s air navigation service provider (ANSP). The government decision to freeze AENA unit rates for 2010 is a welcome start to controlling costs at Europe’s most expensive ANSP. But IATA cautioned that long-term solutions require AENA to address high labor costs and low productivity.

“Minister of Transport José Blanco’s commitment to address inefficiencies at AENA is good news. Tourism is an important component of the Spanish economy and 75% of tourists arrive by air. Making Spain more accessible to travelers with lower operating costs for airlines will have a positive impact on the economy,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Reducing the high cost of air navigation services will require more than the cosmetic surgery of freezing unit rates at Europe’s highest cost ANSP. Minister Blanco must take the scalpel to air traffic controller employment costs which are more than double the European average and make up 68% of the Spanish en route air navigation cost base,” said Bisignani.

Average employment cost for an AENA controller is EUR 343 per hour compared to the European average of EUR 139 per hour. This translates into a cost of flying in Spanish airspace of EUR 625 per hour which is 50% more than the European average of EUR 408.

High costs at AENA are exaggerated by low productivity. Spain has the lowest productivity compared to other European ANSPs with similarly complex operations. On average, a Spanish controller handles only 0.54 flight hours per paid hour. This is significantly lower than the European average of 0.78 flight hours and is much lower than the levels achieved by the other 4 largest ANSPs (1.17 flight hours in the UK, 1.02 in Germany, 0.81 in both Italy and France).

“Safety is our top priority. Safe operations can be achieved with much greater efficiency than is currently the case in Spain. We are not asking the impossible—only that AENA deliver the levels of efficiency currently safely achieved in the similarly complex airspaces of Italy, France, Germany and the UK,” said Bisignani.

“Over the last decade Spanish air traffic costs have tripled. They are now the most expensive en route air navigation charge in Europe. The Spanish economy cannot afford such excess. Minister Blanco is on the right track and we support his progressive strategy for immediate reform,” said Bisignani.

Notes for Editors:

For more information, please contact:
Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967