European Airlines' 2007 delays highlight the need for ATM reform

The Association of European Airlines, representing Europes most important airlines, has released details of its members punctuality performance in 2007
The figures do not make encouraging reading. 2007 was the fourth successive year that punctuality has deteriorated on intra-European flights. 22.7% of departures were delayed by more than 15 minutes, up from 22.3% in 2006. The figures for June and July, at 29.7% and 28.3% respectively, were the highest individual monthly figures since summer 2000. In AEAs survey of 27 major European airports, the highest incidence of delay 35.5% was recorded at London Heathrow, followed by London-Gatwick, Rome, Dublin and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Heathrow was top of the list also in 2006, when Gatwick was in third place and CDG fourth. At the other end of the scale, the four airports recording the lowest level of delay were the same in the same order in both years, with Brussels recording a delay rate of 16.9% in 2007, followed by Dusseldorf, Vienna and Oslo. Next in 2007 was Milan-Linate. Apportioning delay by reason is an inexact science. Nevertheless, according to the AEA data, 42% of primary delays occurred in the pre-flight preparation phase, that is to say, the aircraft was not ready to leave at its departure time, for operational or technical reasons, or because the loading process had not been completed. The remaining 58% were subject to a delay at departure due to weather conditions, airport congestion, or because departure clearance was not given by air traffic control. This last category, of so-called slot delays, highlights the perennial problem of European airspace congestion, whereby the free flow of traffic is constrained by capacity limits on the weakest links in an airway network structured around national frontiers rather than cross-border traffic flows. Said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus: Hopefully, 2008 will mark a turning point in the agonisingly slow process towards a Single European Sky. We are looking forward to the 2nd phase of Single Sky legislation, expected this summer, to bring a new impetus to the programme. The task can then begin to redesign European route network, eliminate inefficiencies and open up to civil traffic some of the huge tracts of airspace reserved for military flying. Not only can passengers look forward to flying more directly to their destination with significantly lower delay, they can be reassured that their flight will have a substantially lesser impact on the environment. To view the 2007 results click here. A detailed breakdown of the airport data by airline can be accessed through the Service Quality page on the AEA website.
David Henderson
Association of European Airlines


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