The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released a statement urging European states to support the proposal to reboot the Single European Sky (SES) initiative.
According to IATA, the air traffic management system faces collapse if states do not support the proposal by the European Commission. Willie Walsh, IATA’s new Director General says that the European Commission has been trying to deliver the benefits of SES since the early 2000s. “But state inaction has meant that none of its targets have been met. New legislation, as proposed by the Commission, is the only way to force the reform and improvements that are desperately needed. But the intransigence and selfishness of key EU states and their air navigation service providers (ANSPs) threatens to collapse the latest Commission effort,” he commented.
The Single European Sky has not been successful so far because air navigation service providers have not had adequate targets or enough independent oversight. The European Commission’s proposal addresses this by giving regulators the power to enforce robust performance targets. It also includes a creation of powerful, independent national economic regulators, an EU-wide regulatory agency and a strengthening of the pan-European Network Manager to improve efficiency.
IATA says the benefits created by the Single European Sky benefits include an improvement in safety performance by a factor of ten, greater capacity, fewer delays and a 10% cut in EU’s aviation emissions.
“The COVID-19 crisis makes the efficiency gains of the SES more critical than ever. And the climate crisis makes the sustainability benefits essential. Europe talks a good game about the importance of sustainability and competitiveness. It’s time to put action behind those words with the SES. If the combined weight of the climate crisis and the COVID-19 crisis are not sufficiently compelling drivers for SES, it’s hard to know what could be,” said Walsh.
“Air traffic control is a monopoly business. In every other business sector, monopoly suppliers are subjected to strong independent regulation—but not in air traffic control. European states make grandiose statements about climate action yet refuse to back common-sense reforms that would force ANSPs to make routings more efficient.”
“And, oblivious to the EUR 27 billion collective loss made by European airlines last year, Europe’s ANSPs are demanding further price increases while sitting on at least EUR 2.5 billion of cash. This is pure madness. But, instead of driving solutions at this critical time, many states are positioning to block reforms and we are in serious danger of moving backwards.”
IATA is now urging the transport ministers to adopt a more ambitious general approach in line with the Commission’s proposal at the next Transport Council which takes place on 3 June.