“The current situation is simply unacceptable” IATA presses Europe to curb flight delays

IATA (International Air Transport Association) has put pressure on European governments and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to reduce carbon emissions and deal with the unnecessary costs and delays suffered by passengers from wasteful flight paths and bottlenecks. 

Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s regional vice president for Europe, said: “The busy summer travel season in Europe has begun and both travellers 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.”

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.

Rafael Schvartzman
In the first six months of this 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  • Reform outdated work practices so that staff can be deployed where they are required, and recruit additional staff as needed to fill any gaps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 programme
  • 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
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