Progress towards the single European Sky

 The Single European Sky the project to rationalise Europes Air Traffic Management (ATM) system was the topic of a High Level Conference in Budapest on 3rd/4th March, to which AEA was invited to contribute.

In praising the Hungarian Presidency of the EU in taking this important initiative, AEA nonetheless warned that the tortuous process towards the Single Sky, which has already taken far too long to come to fruition, continued to be beset by delay.  Said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus:  The Single Sky will benefit travellers, who routinely build into their travel plans a contingency for delay.  It will benefit the environment, to the tune of many millions of tonnes of CO2 annually, needlessly produced flying circuitous routings.  And it will address a huge chunk of inefficiency which burdens the European airlines cost base and hampers their global competitiveness.
 
Every delay to the programme puts all these benefits on hold.  We appreciate that events such as this Conference, and the political decisions announced as part of the proceedings, move the process forward.  Nevertheless, we need  concrete actions to actually reduce delays, emissions and costs , said the AEA Secretary General.
 
We call upon EU Member States to implement without further delay the necessary steps.  It has been demonstrated time and time again that the Single Sky can become reality without compromising safety or endangering employment of the air traffic managers.  We cannot understand any justification for attempting to water down and delay efforts to improve European competitiveness.
 
In particular, the issue of performance targets would determine the success or failure of the Single Sky.  It was only reluctantly that Member States collectively agreed last year to a modest cost reduction for the period 2013-15.  It remains to be seen how they will react when these are translated into differentiated targets, with the most inefficient national systems expected to make the greatest improvements, said Mr. Schulte-Strathaus.
 
AEA also called for a commitment for public funding of SESAR, the technological component of the Single European Sky.  As the project gains momentum, new communications and navigation equipment will need to be installed in aircraft flying in European airspace at a cost beyond the resources of the airlines.  The Single Sky is a genuine trans-European infrastructure project, said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, and deserves to have access to the EU funding available for such undertakings.
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