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A4E Calls on Member States and Air Navigation Service Providers to Ensure Smooth Summer Travel for EU Passengers

  • Enhanced Border Controls caused up to 300% increase in flight delays last summer.
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) delays increased by 6.9% in 2017 — causing knock-on effects throughout Europe and translating into frustrating delays for passengers.
  • Willie Walsh follows Carsten Spohr as new A4E Chair.

Today, on the occasion of its second Annual General Meeting and A4E Aviation Summit, member airline CEOs met with European policymakers and industry stakeholders in Brussels to discuss ways in which European Air Traffic can be made more reliable for passengers. 

“With the busy summer travel season ahead of us, we need to learn from last year’s unacceptable experience — specifically at EU borders, where insufficient infrastructure and understaffing led to an increase of up to 300% in flight delays at some airports, causing up to 5% of passengers per day to miss their connecting flights. While recognising that some Member States have taken measures to alleviate the situation, we remain cautious as still more needs to be done in terms of staffing and investments in automation”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of A4E.

The implementation of a new EU Regulation is having a disproportionate impact on the flow of traffic at European airports. The regulation relates to the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders. For each passenger, the processing time at the border takes approximately 20 seconds longer than before. For each flight, that’s on average an extra hour of processing time.

Another frustrating issue for passengers are the delays caused by understaffed ATC and the insufficient capacity of the system.

“While air traffic in 2017 increased 4.4% compared with 2016, the amount of Air Traffic Flow Management average daily delay minutes increased by 6.9%. This represents the equivalent of more than an entire day of additional delay. Turning to 2018, traffic is expected to continue to grow significantly. Therefore, there is an urgent need to pursue network-wide improvements in 2018 and beyond — which we are actively addressing with all Air Navigation Service Providers“, added Reynaert.

Based on the latest figures by Eurocontrol’s Network Manager, en-route daily delays related to ATC capacity issues or staffing problems have increased by 14.6% and 20.6%, respectively. A4E member airlines expect ATC to apply additional measures and constraints in 2018 to best mitigate these shortfalls. Otherwise, airlines will again have to fly longer routes, specific routes will have to be restricted or flights will be delayed on the ground. This, in turn, causes knock-on effects throughout the network, including airline crews exceeding their working hours, leading to frustrating delays for passengers.

“Lastly, it is my pleasure to thank Carsten Spohr, CEO of the Lufthansa Group, for chairing the second year of A4E and ensuring that 30 airlines gained, again, more visibility in Brussels and beyond. From today, Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group (IAG), will preside over the A4E Steering Board and I am looking forward to jointly launching new policy campaigns to the benefit of European travellers”, concluded Reynaert.