The Association of European Airlines has welcomed the EU Councils positive evaluation of the work undertaken so far in implementing the Single European Sky Legislation, and of the Commissions achievements in driving for a truly Single European Sky. But the Council of Transport Ministers rightly acknowledged that further progress is required.
In particular, AEA welcomes the Councils support for the Commission to go beyond implementing the current provisions and to develop an overall system approach to enhance safety, to improve air traffic management and to increase cost-efficiency. "The inefficiency of the European ATM system is all too familiar to us," said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, "resulting in unnecessary delays for the passenger, unnecessary emissions of 12 million tonnes of CO2 per year and unnecessary annual costs to airlines of more than € 3 billion. Commission and Council are absolutely correct in saying that an overhaul of the entire current air traffic management system is required to avoid circuitous routings and holding patterns over congested airports, increase performance and cost efficiency, whilst strengthening safety oversight provisions." AEA is now waiting for the publication of a second package of measures planned in June of this year, and expects that it will consist of the following, crucial elements: An ambitious proposal for the economic regulation of monopoly ATM services, including target-setting for cost- efficiency, environment/flight-efficiency, capacity and delays, as well as bench-marking at European level. A political commitment before 2010 to tackle fragmentation by implementing, by 2012, Functional Airspace Blocks which meet the airlines performance targets. The creation of a framework to facilitate the safe unbundling of ancillary ATM services, which should be offered in competition - particularly Meteorological Services, which alone cost the airlines using EU airspace more than € 300 million per year, mainly through lack of competition. The reform of Eurocontrol as a technical agency supporting the EU, particularly as regards its budget (currently € 700 million p.a.) which accounts for nearly 8% of the total ATM charges paid by the airlines using European airspace. An extension of the scope of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to ATM safety regulation, so that EASA becomes the single safety regulator for all aspects of the aviation value chain. This will also require a political commitment to increase the public funding of EASAs budget. Make further progress towards the implementation of a Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Master Plan. SESAR is the technical and operational complement to the Single European Sky programme. Public funding will be required for SESAR implementation, in particular to overcome the huge transition costs. Whilst the airline community has supported SESAR through the commitment of substantial resources manpower and funding, the continuation of this support is conditional on the realisation of early and tangible benefits. We totally agree with the Councils conclusions that the EU performance framework should in particular tackle the negative effects of fragmentation, reduce flight inefficiencies and contribute to optimising the environmental performance of aviation, said Mr Schulte-Strathaus. Commissioner Barrot, he continued, has consistently sought the views of industry when developing and implementing aviation-related measures. Member States, the Commission and the industry agree on the urgency and importance of delivering benefits for the passengers, the environment and the performance of the aviation sector. We believe that it is crucial and feasible to deliver the technological tools through SESAR, to restructure European air space through so-called Functional Airspace Blocks and to align the EU agencies by 2013!