The operational performance of the FABEC ANSPs clearly suffered from a number of negative circumstances in the first half of 2016. While an overall increase in traffic could be observed, traffic in Belgium underwent a drop after the terrorist attack at Brussels Airport. In addition, the number of flights to traditional European vacation spots in the eastern Mediterranean has also fallen off. In general, the traffic situation now continues to stabilise, but charter flights for holidaymakers have shifted from eastern to the western Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. So far, at the end of June 2016, FABEC air traffic controllers have guided a total of 2.75 million flights (+ 2.8 percent) safely through the airspace. During the same period, the number of take-offs and landings at the 83 FABEC airports rose to 1.23 million (+ 1.6 percent).
New factors influence punctuality
Air traffic punctuality continues along a favourable path. In the first half of 2016, 96.2 percent of all flights in the FABEC area experienced no delays caused by air traffic control (ATFM en-route delays). 98.2 percent arrived at their destination airports on time, i.e. within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Nevertheless, the average delay due to en-route ATFM measures increased from 0.7 minutes to 1.2 minutes per flight. The primary cause of this evolution is weather related.
For the first time, weather – particularly the severe thunderstorms in the second quarter of 2016 – had an enormous impact on en-route air traffic. Every fifth minute of delay can be traced back to the fact that, in case of bad weather, air navigation service providers reduce capacity to ensure that passengers have a safe and smooth flight. Other factors resulting in a significant increase in delay were the implementation of a new ATC system at the control centre in Brest, social actions in France and staff shortages in Belgium and Germany. As in 2015, insufficient capacity was an issue in France and high and unplanned demand above forecast references has caused significant capacity delay in the Belgian airspace controlled by Maastricht UAC.
Airport punctuality is excellent
At the 83 monitored FABEC airports, punctuality remained excellent. Delay related to air traffic control was negligible. More than 56 percent of all delay minutes at airports was due to the weather.