15 years of DFS A success story is the theme of this years annual press briefing held by DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung.
The CEO of DFS, Dieter Kaden, remarked that the company could proudly look back on 15 years of success and that the company was in an excellent position to rise to the challenges of the future. In 2007, DFS controllers handled 3.12 million flights 4.4 percent more than in 2006. The volume of traffic has doubled since DFS was founded 15 years ago. Six aircraft proximities were recorded, three of which were caused by DFS. Not only is flying safe, but it also gets passengers to their destinations on time. In 2007, 96.3 per cent of all flights reached their destination without any delays caused by air traffic control. This makes Germany the country with the highest traffic volume and, at the same time, with the safest and most punctual air navigation services in Europe. The financial figures of DFS are also impressive. Revenue increased to €904.1 million compared with €881.7 million in 2006. Net income rose to €41.8 million in 2007 compared with €17.2 in 2006. This increase in net income is a direct consequence of the conversion to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as stipulated by the EU. The conversion led to negative equity in the DFS accounts. As DFS by law has to comply with the principle of full-cost recovery, the company must charge the airspace users (airlines) with the cost of the financing requirements. However, these financing requirements are spread out over a period of 15 years. Consequently, en-route charges and terminal charges for 2007 rose by 6.5 and 11.3 percent respectively, but were still lower than in 2004. At the beginning of 2008, DFS was able to reduce en-route charges again. Mr Kaden drew special attention to two major projects that have emerged from the European Commissions Single European Sky initiative. One project is called Functional Airspace Block Europe Central (FAB EC). DFS is currently working on a feasibility study for this project together with its partners from Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the EUROCONTROL Centre in Maastricht. The objective is to create an airspace that is organised according to traffic flows rather than national borders as is the case today. With 5.5 million flights every year, this airspace with the major hubs of Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Munich has the highest traffic density in the world. On an institutional level, different political, cultural and legal systems will have to be accommodated. The military partners will also have to be included in the process. In Mr Kaden's opinion, there is no other alternative but to face this great challenge, which can be overcome. A joint Declaration of Intent is to be signed as early as in November of this year, while the ratification of a Treaty by the States is planned for 2011. At this point Mr Kaden re-iterated the need to change German legislation in order to allow the German air navigation services to participate in the project. Today, the German Constitution stipulates that air navigation services have to be performed by a federal authority. Yet everyone knows that the reality paints a different picture. If the ever-growing volume of air traffic is to be handled as safely and punctually in the future as it is today, then air navigation services cannot be constrained by rigid national borders. The SESAR programme is the second project pursued by DFS and its European partners. SESAR stands for the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Programme, a research project that will set the stage for the European air navigation services infrastructure of the future. Unlike in the FAB EC project where only air navigation services organisations and their States are involved, SESAR also integrates airlines, manufacturers and airports. SESAR looks far into the future, and DFS intends to contribute its know-how along with its partners from France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. DFS has also prepared its organisational structure for the upcoming changes in Europe. In its new distribution-of-business plan, the activities in the core business of providing air navigation services have been pooled. By introducing a new directorate for commercial services, DFS is boosting its competitive capacity. Since the beginning of this year, Jens Bergmann has been leading this directorate.