Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is disappointed that Europe’s air navigation service providers (ANSPs) labeled the proposed Single European Sky (SES) performance targets for 2010-2014 as “unrealistic” in a statement issued through the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO).

“Europe’s air traffic management is a mess and it needs to get better. The need for Europe to achieve the efficiencies of the Single European Sky was evident for the whole world during April’s volcanic ash shutdown. And passengers suffer daily from air traffic control delays or circuitous flight routings,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. The average daily delay in September was 2.4 minutes per flight, higher than the Eurocontrol target of one minute delay during the summer. July was the worst month with an average delay of 5.3 minutes, five times the target and nearly double that of July 2009.

“The SES objective is a 50% cut in air traffic management costs by 2020 and is critical for a competitive European air transport sector. It is very disappointing that the ANSPs are beginning to complain about initial targets which are simply to absorb the costs of growth with efficiency gains,” said Bisignani. Besides cost efficiency, the SES also aims to increase airspace capacity 3-fold, improve the safety record by a factor of 10, and reduce the effects on the environment by 10%.

The independent Performance Review Board (PRB) has recommended an initial target for ANSPs to reduce costs by 4.5%. In real terms (considering an inflation rate which is expected to range from +1.6% to +2.0% for the 2010-2104 period) this a call for a unit cost reduction of 2.5% to 2.9%. Even this burden will be further diluted by traffic growth of 3.2%.

“In the end, the targets are simply to contain the costs of growth within current costs and resources. That is not a big ask of our partners. But it does send a strong signal to the ANSPs that the cost-recovery model is dead. Aviation survived a decade of crises by cutting costs and improving efficiency with no compromise on safety or security. In light of that, ANSPs cannot simply send us a bill with uncontrolled costs. This is the first step to eventually bring Europe in line with global ANSP costs with a 50% reduction. There is no time to complain. Europe’s ANSP managers need to start delivering greater efficiencies,” said Bisignani.

The PRB performance targets are an integral part of the Single European Sky Package II (SES II) approved by the European Union Transport Council in March 2009. The performance targets are critical to delivering the benefits outlined in the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan.

Europe’s airlines have been hit hard by successive crises over the last decade. It is the only region expected to be in the red in 2010 with a loss of $1.3 billion. In the aftermath of April’s ash crisis, both the EU Transport Ministers as well as European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas committed to improve competitiveness with more efficient air traffic management infrastructure. The SES, fully implemented, is expected to bring cost benefits of EUR 5 billion annually.

“Despite the renewed political commitment for SES, progress has been slow. Airlines and their passengers are paying the price of long air traffic delays during the summer. To move forward, European ANSPs need to face reality and demonstrate the leadership and commitment that is demanded by politicians, airlines and the travelling public. They need to abandon their outdated mentality that is crippling European air traffic management. It is urgent that Europe’s Transport Ministers make this abundantly clear to their ANSPs,” said Bisignani.

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Notes for Editors:

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