- EU ATC is in crisis and in urgent need of reform
- Airlines seek more detail and greater involvement and ability to direct in future governance structures
- Cooperation between the different areas of aviation has proven valuable and needs to continue
The eagerly-awaited report of the “wise persons group” (WPG) on the future of European air traffic management was released yesterday by the European Commission. This high-level group of wise persons was established by the European Commission to provide recommendations and ultimately improve air traffic management services in the EU, in light of the continuous growth and unacceptable delays in air traffic in Europe.
“We welcome the vision outlined by the ‘wise persons group’”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of Airlines For Europe (A4E). “Of course, specific details of the report must be reviewed, but we are pleased to see the unconditional support for the recommendations published in the recent SESAR Airspace Architecture Study”.
“A4E believes that the WPG report, in combination with the Airspace Architecture Study, can be a very useful instrument to address short and long-term capacity problems in Europe. Nevertheless, the aviation industry must work together to make the vision of the report and the Airspace Architecture Study become a reality in the foreseeable future”, Reynaert added.
“For example, we support the proposal to improve the current licensing and training requirements for Air Traffic Controllers. These recommendations support innovation and open the doors for more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly aviation which ultimately benefits the passenger. While the push for streamlining the aviation-related governance may have its merits, it is not clear how airlines will be properly involved in this, or what the potential for cost saving will be”, concluded Reynaert.
The report comes after 19.1 million minutes of Air Traffic Control (ATC) delays were experienced in European airspace in 2018 (+105% on 2017), of which 60% were caused by ATC staff shortages and 15% due to ATC strikes. Eurocontrol estimates delays will potentially double again in 2019 to 38 million minutes if no action is taken. These recommendations offer some hope of ending the chaos of European ATC delays.