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Airlines protest “weakest ever” ATC targets

EU member states have approved a weak performance for air traffic controllers despite increasing delays, A4E says.

Despite record delays and calls by airlines for urgent EU airspace reform, European Union member states have approved what the Airlines for Europe (A4E) lobby group calls “the weakest performance targets ever” for Europe’s air traffic control providers.

The threshold for delays per flight was extended in the vote from 0.5 minutes to 0.9 minutes.

“In practical terms, with 11 million flights operating across Europe today, the current target allows for 5.5 million minutes of delay at a time when EU airspace inefficiencies caused airlines and their passengers a shocking 19 million minutes of delay last year (+105% vs 2017),” A4E protests.

With the new targets in place for the next two years, passengers can expect even more delays, longer flight times and unnecessary CO2 emissions in the future, it adds.

The group calculates that a minimum of 9.9 million minutes of delay will now be acceptable under the new scheme.

“These targets will reward poorly performing ANSPs [air navigation service providers] whilst frustrating those who are already delivering,” says Thomas Reynaert, managing director of Airlines for Europe.

“Combined with insufficient staffing levels and current underspending by ANSPs on future investments to improve their performance, the new targets are extremely disappointing and simply bad news for passengers.”

Costly delays
A recent European Commission report comparing air traffic management in the US and Europe found that in 2017, despite the US controlling 50% more flights – 15.3 million vs. 10.4 million in Europe – “the total number of flights with a reportable delay was 387,000 in Europe and 258,000 in the US, Reynaert points out.

“This means that 50% more flights are delayed in Europe than in the US due to Europe’s fragmented system,” he says.

In early March, Airlines for Europe said that “Europe’s inefficient airspace” cost the European Union €17.6 billion in 2018, with 334 million passengers affected.

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