Airlines operating in European skies are increasingly struggling with delays. The critical point was reached during the end of this summer. The European Airline Association ‘A4E’ (Airlines for Europe) tallied delays during the month of July, where delay time accounted for two million minutes; an equivalent of 4 years.
„This is an extraordinary increase of 12 per cent - compared to 2016, and 35 percent - compared to 2015, “said Thomas Reynaert, CEO of A4E. He added ‘only around 30 percent of the delays are due to weather conditions, the remaining delays are related to traffic management’.
Airline representatives have been very critical of European ATCOs, claiming the problems are caused by poor route planning, staff shortages, and other issues relating to ATCOs, resulting, for example, in longer flights. In response, A4E have sent a letter to the European ANSPs asking for remedial action.
"We admit that the density of air traffic in European airspace is increasing. However, airlines expect a level of service to ensure predictability and stability," Reynaert said.
The association also remarked that some ANSPs work very well and record almost zero delays. These include the Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic, where the number of movements in Czech airspace in July exceeded 90 thousand, for the first time in its history.
The airline association, amongst other issues, has called for the acceleration of the Single Sky Project, which has been under discussion for many years. If introduced, the state borders in the sky would be erased and controllers would operate in so-called functional airspace blocks.
Jan Klas, Director General of ANS CR, commented on the airline initiative for the daily Zdopravy.cz.
"The customer oriented approach is a basic prerequisite for the operation of ANR CR. So in this case, I am trying to understand the rationale in this flattering critique, even though our company has managed to record an enormous increase in traffic - without delays. However, I am convinced that it is fundamental to respect the wishes of the customer - the travelling public. They rightly expect all the important links in the whole chain (air carriers, airport operators and air navigation service providers) to do the maximum to achieve safety and reliability within air transport. I am aware of the necessity for systemic changes in the European context, and I am actively getting involved in it. But I always prefer communication based on mutual understanding and cooperation, rather than being blamed in public."