Airlines Call On EU States To Deliver on ATM Obligations

 - November 28, 2011, 2:22 PM
ERA director general Mike Ambrose blamed a lack of political will for slow progress on the Single European Sky (SES) project.

The Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carrier Association (IACA) have jointly issued a plea to EU member states “to stop procrastinating” on the Single European Sky project “and finally start delivering on their obligations.”

On November 25, the European Commission called on the member states to revise their performance plans, most of which don’t come close to fulfilling their agreed upon targets, according to the coalition.

“Airlines need urgent deliverables,” said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, AEA secretary general. “States must stop procrastinating and make progress towards a genuine Single European Sky.” In a statement issued the same day, the four groups said airlines consider the Europe-wide targets set by the EC as a bare minimum to implement “long overdue” improvements to the European ATM system.

“The current economic climate should be an added incentive, but member states are now using this as an excuse to stall the project,” added John Hanlon, ELFAA secretary general. “Member states need to go back to the drawing board and work together with the Commission to revise their performance plans.”

Airlines also regret the lack of meaningful implementation of the functional airspace blocks (FABs), said the groups. “The concept of FABs currently seems to be just ‘window dressing’ by member states,” according to the joint statement. FABs bring together blocks of national airspace and, according to the groups, represent an essential ingredient to reform.

“For far too long member states have unduly benefitted from the full cost-recovery mechanism, which has reduced the incentive to boost efficiency. As a result, airlines and consumers have had to pay for the system’s inefficiencies,” said Sylviane Lust, IACA director general.

“It is important that the public knows that there are no insurmountable technical obstacles to the early implementation of the Single European Sky,” concluded ERA director general Mike Ambrose. “Speedier progress is constrained only by lack of political will.”