Delays in air traffic control could cloud the summer holiday season

IATA has announced that poor investment in air traffic control could bring delays to travellers in the summer holiday season.


CROWDED: Airspace in Europe is becoming increasingly limited

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned governments and air navigation service providers to address Europe’s airspace bottlenecks. New data has revealed that delays this year have doubled since 2017. 

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said: “We are in the summer season in Europe. Travellers want to get to their holidays on time. And too many will be disappointed because of air traffic delays. We should be making progress, but delays are double those of last year. There is no quick fix for this year. But the needed solutions are well-known. With the correct investment and planning by governments and ANSPs we can, and must, make next year better.” 

In the first half of 2018 Eurocontrol revealed that delays had more than doubled to 47,000 minutes per day, an increase of 133 per cent more than in the same period last year. 

Most of these delays were caused by staffing and capacity shortages as well as weather delays and disruptive events such as strikes.

The average delay as a result of air traffic control restraints reached 20 minutes in July, with the longest delay of 337 minutes. 

Air traffic is on the rise in Europe as airlines add more destinations for consumers. As a result airspace above Europe is extremely congested. 

A spokesman for IATA said key air navigation service providers (ANSP) in Europe have not made much needed investments in their businesses, preferring instead to make ‘astronomical profits’. Furthermore, they have not made investments in the technologies that are intended to increase investment. 

“The largest service providers have either under-invested in staff or use outdated employment practices which don’t deploy staff when and where they’re most needed,” the spokesman added, “resulting in unnecessary delays for passengers”.  

IATA is calling on the European Commission, Member States and ANSPs to take urgent action with the following four-point plan:

  • Modernise the infrastructure and implement the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) something airlines are already paying for.
  • Reform outdated work practices so that staff are deployed when they’re required; and, is necessary, recruit additional staff.
  • Empower the European Network Manager to plan and configure the network to meet the demands of air travellers.
  • Strengthen the Performance and Charging Scheme so that ANSPs not delivering agreed capacity are subject to meaningful penalties. 

de Juniac said: “The impact of ATC delays ripple throughout the economy. At a time when Europe’s competitiveness urgently needs to be improved, increasing ATM delays is totally unacceptable. Travellers are fed-up. Change must start now.” 

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