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Average delay per flight in the EU soars by over 400% as Europe’s airspace capacity struggles to keep up with demand

By  Brussels, — Last updated on 11 December 2023

The gap between airline demand and the capacity of Europe’s airspace is in danger of never closing as EU member states again failed to provide adequate airspace capacity in 2022.

The latest annual report of the Single European Sky’s Performance Review Body (PRB) shows that delays “significantly exceeded the target” and there was a 400% increase in the average delay per flight.

The report documents a continued failure of member states to meet agreed performance plans for European airspace. The situation is unlikely to get better any time soon as the PRB repeats a recommendation from last year that member states need to step up and take action now to avoid future capacity gaps. Combined with strong traffic numbers and robust passenger demand, there is a perfect storm that will continue to impact airline operations and needlessly inconvenience millions of passengers. This could easily be avoided if member states used all means available to them to improve systems and plug the increasing gap between demand and capacity in Europe’s airspace.

Commenting on the report, Managing Director of A4E, Ourania Georgoutsakou, said that:

“Airlines are cruising when it comes to their recovery while Europe’s airspace remains stuck on the ground. We can’t afford another repeat of the 400% increase in the average delay per flight. Europe’s passengers deserve better.”

She continued,

“This isn’t just a report; it’s a call to action. We need to bolster Europe’s airspace capacity, drive reforms in its operations and pave the way for airlines to operate more efficiently. Not only will this deliver a better passenger experience—it will also further enable airlines to reduce their environmental footprint.”



About PRB Report

the Performance Review Body has published its Annual Monitoring Report for 2022. This report evaluates the performance of the Single European Sky Member States (MS), and their respective air navigation service providers (ANSPs) against targets in the key performance areas of safety, environment, capacity, and cost-efficiency.


About A4E

Airlines for Europe (A4E) is Europe’s largest airline association. Based in Brussels, A4E works with policymakers to ensure aviation policy continues to connect Europeans with the world in a safe, competitive and sustainable manner. As a key initiator of aviation’s Destination 2050 roadmap, A4E and its members committed to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions for their own operations by 2050. With a modern fleet of over 3,300 aircraft, A4E airlines carried over 610 million passengers in 2022 and served nearly 2,000 destinations. Each year, A4E members transport more than 4 million tonnes of vital goods and equipment to more than 360 destinations either by freighters or passenger aircraft.