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Single European sky: helping to cut flight times and aviation emissions
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Published on 11-06-13

Plans to speed up reforming Europe's air traffic control systems to enable greater airspace capacity, cut costs and reduce delays have been unveiled by EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas. The Commission is looking to head-off a capacity crunch, as flights are forecast to increase by 50% over the next decade or two.  Tackling the inefficiencies in Europe's fragmented airspace will also address the 5 billion euros extra cost which gets passed on to airlines and customers annually. Air traffic control costs make up between 6-12% of ticket costs.

    Single European sky: helping to cut flight times and aviation emissions

    Safety remains the first priority for aviation, but European skies and airports risk saturation if nothing is done.   Europe will not only have to reject potential demand, but will also be vulnerable to delays, flight cancellations and congestion costs which are set to increase by 50% come 2050.

    The central problem is EU airspace remains fragmented into 27 national air traffic control systems meaning airspace is structured around national boundaries so often flights are unable to take direct routes.  This mean on average, aircraft in Europe fly 42km (26 miles) longer than necessary resulting in longer journey times, extra fuel consumption and more emissions.

    In comparison, the United States controls the same amount of airspace as the EU, with more traffic, but at almost half the cost.

    Background

    Plans to remove national boundaries in the air and create a single airspace were first outlined in the late 1990s to improve safety tenfold, triple airspace capacity, reduce air management costs and the impact on the environment.

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    Last update: 12/06/2013  |Top