MUNICH, Germany—Last week a major agreement for joint management and consolidation of airspace was reached between six European countries, which could revolutionize the European travel industry.
Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland were part of a project called Single European Sky (SES), aiming to organize and unite civil and military air traffic among the countries, to reduce costs, shorten flight times, save fuel, increase efficiency, and decrease carbon emissions.
The successful agreement between the six earlier mentioned countries creates a Functional Airspace Block—Europe Central (FABEC) that would operate and be managed as a single unit regardless of which country the airspace belongs. The airspace covered by those six countries comprises 55 percent of all European air traffic and is regarded as the busiest and the most complex on the continent.
"The FABEC agreement is an important step in reducing airspace fragmentation, as it covers the core area of Europe with many large airports. Today's signature should be an inspiration for the other Member States in their efforts to have all the functional airspace blocks in place by the deadline of 4 December 2012,” said European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, who is responsible for transport, in a statement.
“The functional airspace blocks will be able to satisfy the growing capacity requirements of all airspace users with a minimum of delays by managing air traffic more dynamically. At the same time, safety standards and overall efficiency will be enhanced," he added.
The SES project set highly aggressive 2020 targets to reduce costs by 50 percent, increase airspace capacity threefold, improve safety by a factor of 10, reduce delays to an average of 30 seconds, and reduce harmful environmental emissions by 10 percent.
“Air Traffic Management (ATM) in Europe is an uncompetitive mess. Introducing performance targets or re-grouping the administration of ANSPs will not deliver meaningful results without challenging targets.
"SES will be successful when I see SES’s long-promised EUR 5 billion cost savings. Until then, Europe has a EUR 5 billion competitive disadvantage that is felt by everybody who travels or ships on the continent. That is why we need political leaders to step in and drive the process with a vision to restore Europe’s competitiveness,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director of International Air Transport Association (IATA), in a statement.