Without urgent action, the European airport network will be unable to serve the number of flights predicted in the region by 2040, according to a new study by Eurocontrol. Eamonn Brennan, the agency’s director general, said the first five months of 2018 have seen much longer flight delays than previous years. While traffic has increased by 3.4 percent over 2017, en route air traffic flow management delays have risen from .46 minutes per flight to 1.05 minutes per flight. The EU target figure is no more than 0.5 minutes.
Speaking at the ACI General Assembly last month, he noted, “Europe is already struggling to cope with the level of traffic this year.” Brennan told the audience that the likely scenario predicts traffic growth of 1.9 percent a year between now and 2040 for a total of 16.2 million flights a year, a 53 percent increase over current levels. But under the highest growth scenario, it could be as many as 19.5 million.
Under those forecasts, 16 airports in the region will be operating at near capacity for much of the day, up from six currently, leading to an estimated €88.1 billion ($102.5 billion) in lost economic activity due to unmet demand for air travel and reduced air connectivity.
“Providing more capacity, especially on this scale, requires long-term planning,” concluded Brennan, “therefore I think we need to address the issue as a matter of urgency.”