The latest manifestation of the European Sky (SES) Performance and Charging scheme (2020-2024) “reward[s] poorly performing air navigation service providers while frustrating those who are already delivering," according to a joint statement from European aviation associations and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The associations’ statement lamented the approval of the new scheme by European Union member states, describing it as illustrating “the weakest levels of ambition in the history of the [scheme].” The statement continued: “[The scheme] will not incentivize the performance improvements the European airspace network desperately needs, nor will they support the delivery of the Single European Sky benefits. Combined with outdated staffing practices which do not provide the required resource levels in peak periods—for example when European citizens and passengers go on holiday—it becomes evident that real reform of this sector is urgently needed.”
The associations, including EBAA, explained that the European Commission (EC) recently commissioned an academic study to benchmark the performance of air navigation service providers (ANSPs). “The study conservatively estimated EU-wide cost inefficiencies in the range of 25-30 percent, due to ANSPs’ poor performance.”
The latest performance targets (the so-called Reference Period 3 targets) “will do little to address these inefficiencies,” they claim. “In fact, they will make a situation which allowed ANSPs to generate €1.3 billion in surplus (over the past 10 years) on top of their regulated profits, even worse.”
What the associations identify as “the current underspending by ANSPs on planned capital investments and staffing,” when these have already paid for by airspace users and their passengers, “should not continue to be rewarded.”
The associations said furthermore that in 2018, this situation contributed to delays of more than 19 million minutes—105 percent more than in 2017.
“Appeasing key member states rather than challenging them on their lackluster performance will further burden airspace users and passengers with rising costs, even more delays, and unnecessary additional CO2 emissions. In short, the agreed proposal waters down the current situation and exacerbates the potential for further delays when RP3 begins in 2020.”