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EU Transport Ministers Compromise; Agree to Update Blocked SES Regulation From 2013

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  • Updates will enable greater airspace efficiencies and reduce delays in the future
  • Regulatory update needs to be swiftly finalised for improvements to take hold.
  • Existing ATC staffing and capacity shortages still need to be addressed.

A4E welcomes yesterday’s decision by EU Transport Ministers to update the current Single European Sky regulation, which has been blocked since 2013. This decision will help aviation to achieve its environmental targets and continue to provide swift and easy connectivity for Europe and its citizens.

“We welcome yesterday’s agreement to move forward on this important update to the Single European Sky regulation, which was long-overdue. That said, the decision doesn’t go far enough. By requesting an analysis from the European Commission regarding the impact of proposed new measures, we risk further delay in updating the regulation”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, Airlines for Europe (A4E).

“We look forward to working with the EU Institutions to finalise the new regulation swiftly so that the necessary changes can take hold by 2024, when the current reference period (RP3) of the existing economic regulation comes to an end. In the meantime, we also expect the Ministers to resolve Europe’s ATM capacity and staff shortages to ensure a complete future-proofing of our ATM network”, Reynaert added.

Global passenger traffic is expected to double by 2037. Accommodating this growth — while at the same time, addressing its environmental and social impacts — is a major challenge for the European air transport industry and governments. It will require the introduction of new technologies, harmonized regulation and adequate infrastructure.

Only through the full implementation of the SES vision can aviation provide to Europe, and its citizens, the efficient and sustainable airspace it deserves.

About the Single European Sky initiative:

For decades, the EU and aviation stakeholders have faced the reality that the performance of Europe’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) network is insufficient and incapable of dealing with growing traffic demand. This fragmented system, with limited capacity, led to the original proposal of the Single European Sky back in 1999.

  • In 2004, the SES I regulation was approved.
  • In 2009, the SES I regulation was updated to SES II.
  • In 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Commission’s Aviation Strategy, recalling that airspace is part of the EU Single Market and that any fragmentation resulting from inefficient use, as well as diverging national practises, causes longer flight times, delays, extra fuel burn and higher levels of CO2 emissions.
  • In 2018, the European Commission established a “Wise Persons Group” consisting of high-level aviation experts who produced a set of recommendations to attain a more efficient, flexible and sustainable European ATM system.
  • In March this year, the SESAR Joint Undertaking in charge of managing the technological pillar of Europe’s SES initiative published its airspace architecture study, detailing concrete proposals for achieving Europe’s future airspace structure

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 achieve Net Zero carbon emissions for their own operations by 2050. With a modern fleet of over 3,200 aircraft, A4E airlines carried over 270 million passengers in 2021 — down from 700 million in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, A4E members with air cargo and mail activities transport more than 3.7 million tonnes of goods, life-saving vaccines and essential medical equipment to more than 360 destinations either by freighters or passenger aircraft. Follow us on Twitter @A4Europe.