European States Not Meeting ATM Commitments, Says Independent Body

 - October 17, 2011, 2:25 PM
Many European air navigation service providers haven’t met their legal commitments related to the continent’s ATM efficiency goals. (Photo: Fotolia)

Most European states have fallen behind in their legislated commitments to improve the operational, financial and environmental efficiency of the continent’s air traffic management system, according to the latest independent Performance Review Body (PRB) report and draft recommendations from the European Commission.

“Everybody agrees that high costs, delays, environmental waste and circuitous routings are not acceptable,” said IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler. “But the problems are not going to fix themselves.”

Last year, European countries committed to improve the annual cost efficiency of air navigation services between 2012 and 2014 by 3.5 percent–a full percentage point lower than the Performance Review Body’s proposed target of 4.5 percent.

“Watering down the targets to 3.5 percent is costing the competitiveness of Europe’s connectivity €1 billion over the period 2012 to 2014,” added Tyler. “Now because of inaction we are facing a further hit of €256 million. When targets are agreed, state leadership must ensure that they are met. This is not the time for complacency.”

The PRB report shows that 21 of 29 European states failed to make adequate contributions to the cost-efficiency target. The report specifically named air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Spain (continental), the UK, Czech Republic and Finland as contributing least to the cost reduction targets.

The shortfall totals 2.4 percent, according to the PRB, which will equate to a total cost of €256 million of unrealized savings for 2012 to 2014.

“The real story is with the ‘Big Five’ ANSPs–Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain,” said Tyler. “Being responsible for 54 percent of the costs of air navigation services in Europe, the success of the performance scheme is dependent on these states meeting their share of the required cost reductions with no shortfall.”

The performance improvement targets account for an integral part of the Single European Sky Package II (SES II) approved by the European Union’s Transport Council in March 2009. “The SES cost-efficiency objective is a 50-percent reduction in air traffic management costs by 2020,” added Tyler. “The latest reports indicate that the ANSPs are hardly achieving cost containment, let alone the needed reductions.” Alongside improving cost efficiency, SES aims to increase airspace capacity by more than 70 percent, improve the safety record by a factor of 10 and reduce the effects of air transport on the environment by 10 percent.