IATA: Air Traffic Control Inefficiencies Mean Summer of Wasted Emissions and Delays

July 18, 2019
The International Air Transport Association has called on European governments and air navigation service providers to make urgent improvements to European air traffic management.

(Geneva) – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on European governments and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to make urgent improvements to European air traffic management. The priority should be to cut carbon emissions and address the unnecessary costs and flight delays suffered by passengers from inefficient airspace routes and bottlenecks. 

According to Eurocontrol, in June more than 210,000 flights, 20% of the total, were delayed. The average delay time was 17 minutes. The vast majority of the delays are from a lack of air traffic control capacity, driven by inadequate staffing, inflexible rostering, and an inability to react to disruptive events. 

In the first six months of the year Karlsruhe Upper Area Control (UAC) in Germany, the Marseille UAC in France and the Vienna UAC in Austria contributed the most to delays.

A short-term contingency plan was introduced last year to re-organize the region’s airspace in a move to mitigate inefficiencies in the network. The plan generated new problems as it redistributed 1,000 flights per day from the most problematic areas. The re-routing of aircraft increases travel time for passengers and it forces airlines to circumnavigate saturated areas with longer, less efficient routes that produce unnecessary CO2 emissions.

IATA calls on the European Commission, European Governments and ANSPs to:

  • Reform outdated work practices so that staff can be deployed where they are required, and recruit additional staff as needed to fill any gaps
  • Modernize ATM infrastructure and implement the new Airspace Architecture program  
  • Continue the deployment of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) which airlines have invested in
  • Empower the European Network Manager to plan and configure the network to meet the demands of air travelers
  • Penalize ANSPs which fail to deliver agreed capacity targets under the European Performance and Charging Scheme

“The busy summer travel season in Europe has begun and both travelers and airlines should be able to get to their destinations on time. The current situation is simply unacceptable. Airlines are making strides to reduce their environmental impact but in Europe they are being forced to produce unnecessary emissions every day. Fortunately, solutions exist. With the correct investment and planning, and a change in mindset by both governments and ANSPs, another summer of wasted emissions and delays can be avoided,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe.