In the first reference period from 2012-14, the service quality in terms of safety, capacity/punctuality and flight-efficiency provided by the seven FABEC air navigation services providers ANA (Luxembourg), Belgocontrol (Belgium), DFS (Germany), DSNA (France), LVNL (Netherlands), MUAC (EUROCONTROL), and skyguide (Switzerland) was high, in some cases the best ever recorded. This result is based on improvements in all key performance areas accompanied by an overall slight decline of controlled flights. This overall trend in traffic volume evens out the huge discrepancies in traffic numbers between the different control centres that experienced both declines and growth in traffic. In financial terms, the unreliability of traffic forecasts has led to a substantial loss of revenues for some ANSPs that were only partially offset by additional cost savings. This is the basic message of the Performance Report 2012-14 published today by the FABEC ANSPs.
Traffic below 2008 levels – significant local differences
The development that shaped the first reference period most significantly was the unexpected drop in demand by airspace users in some areas of FABEC airspace. In 2011, IFR traffic in FABEC airspace had been expected to increase to 6.2 million flights by 2014. Looking at the actual figures, we are far away from this scenario. Last year, the FABEC ANSPs controlled 5.51 million flights, 11.1 percent or 690,000 fewer flights than forecasted. In addition, the demand in 2014 was still below the demand seen in 2007 and 2008. It is important to note that local developments have varied considerably from one control centre to another. At the end of the first reference period, only three control centres (Reims, Brest and Maastricht) recorded more traffic than forecasted. All others recorded less. The difference between forecast and actual traffic ranged between +5.8 and -15 percent.
Excellence in operational safety
Data on separation minima infringements and runway incursions over the whole reference period show that there is a consistently high level of safety in FABEC airspace. FABEC performance has improved slightly over the past years in the number of separation minima infringements (2011:1301; 2014: 1191). The number of reported runway incursions have remained stable over the last four years (2011: 473; 2014 435). This result is accompanied by sustainable improvements both of the effectiveness of the safety management and of Just Culture.
On-time service is standard
Today, delay in aviation is no longer a major issue. In 2014, 97.1 percent of all en-route flights in FABEC were on time, meaning that they experienced no delay caused by air traffic flow management measures. This is an excellent level of service quality and an improvement of 1.2 percentage points compared to 2011, when 95.9 percent were on time. While the average en-route delay was 0.74 minutes (44.4 seconds) per flight in 2011, it decreased to 0.56 minutes (33.6 seconds) in 2014. Both 2013 and 2014 were outstanding years as FABEC ANSPs achieved the best results ever recorded. The objective defined in the FABEC Performance Plan was slightly exceeded by 0.06 minutes per flight (3.6 seconds). Analysing the causes of delay it is obvious that overall capacity and staffing are no longer the limiting factors despite the fact that there are local differences. Besides this, industrial action and weather were important and ongoing factors affecting the whole reference period.
Horizontal route extension close to the optimum
FABEC substantially improved its environmental performance, measured in terms of horizontal flight efficiency. Based on real radar track data for 2014, the average en-route distance per flight in FABEC airspace was 526.26 km, less than 8.9 km longer than the average direct route, a value that is close to the optimum considering military airspaces, weather and other factors.
Overall, the loss of revenues due to falling traffic totalled EUR 333.1 million in the first reference period. Based on the risk-sharing mechanism laid down in the regulation EU 1191/2010, the FABEC ANSPs have had to bear a financial burden of EUR 191 million, while EUR 142.1 million will be charged to airspace users at a later date. Given the drop in traffic, FABEC ANSPs took action and implemented several local cost-reduction measures that resulted in additional cost savings of EUR 176 million.
This corresponds to an overall reduction of 2.5 percent compared with the cost-base determined. However, there was a shortfall of EUR 15 million compared to the revenue decline of EUR 191 million. In addition, the development has to be seen in the light of the fact that the FABEC Performance Plan already called for a decrease in the national unit rates of 6.0 percent across FABEC by 2014.