European airlines call for ATM action
Airline association says 2018 is likely to be worst year in a decade for ATC delays and flight cancellations.
Airlines for Europe (A4E) reports that 2018 is shaping up to be one of the worst years for air traffic control delays and flight cancellations in nearly a decade and is calling for swift and decisive action to reform Europe’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.
A4E is urging accelerated implementation of a “seamless European sky” which would integrate national airspaces into a single continuum across the continent.
IATA launched a similar call for action to address European airspace issues in August.
Eurocontrol data shows that ATC capacity and staff shortages led to a 50% increase in delayed flights in October compared to last year. For the full year, Eurocontrol estimates that total delay minutes will be up by 53% versus last year due to strikes and capacity shortages (14.3 million minutes in 2018 versus 9.3 million minutes in 2017).
These figures follow this summer’s record delays due to ATC staff shortages and capacity issues. So far in 2018, A4E member airlines have been forced to cancel over 5,000 flights due to ATC strikes, affecting around 800,000 passengers. Millions more travellers have suffered flight delays caused by other ATC issues such as staff shortages, airspace diversions and residual backups.
A4E cites a PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study that estimated the economic cost of ATC strikes in the EU between 2010-2017 at €13.4bn. According to the European Commission, the EU has been affected by more than 350 air traffic control strikes since 2005, 254 of which have occurred in France – which has seen a 300% increase in ATC strikes.