The number of flights in the European Union are predicted to increase by 50 percent in the next 20 years, and the European Commission has taken action today to jumpstart its Single European Sky solution to this pending capacity issue.
The commission recently proposed updating the Single European Sky regulations and amending rules governing the European Aviation Safety Agency. The proposals, which are grouped under the name, SES2+, are to lead to better safety and oversight, enhanced air traffic performance, new support-services business opportunities, and new industry partnerships.
According to the commission, the United States controls the same amount of airspace as the European Union, but it is frequented by more traffic and is handled at half the cost.
The proposals are a reaction to a lack of movement on the SES front by member states. In the end, SES is to reduce aviation’s environmental impact by 10 percent, improve safety tenfold, and cut air traffic management costs in half.
Member states and parliament must pass these proposals before they become law.
Siim Kallas, the European Union’s transport commissioner, chose to focus on the effect the changes will have on passengers in the European Union, but the changes for cargo are also quite beneficial.
“Our airlines and their passengers have had to endure more than 10 years of reduced services and missed deadlines on the route to a Single European Sky. We cannot afford to continue this way,” he said in a statement. “Today we are strengthening the nuts and bolts of the system so it can withstand more pressure and deliver ambitious reforms even in difficult economic times. We need to boost the competitiveness of the European aviation sector and create more jobs in the airlines and at airports.”
The International Air Transport Association applauded the European Union’s efforts on the Single European Sky issue, which has dragged on and on over the years with seemingly little progress.
“The commission shares the industry’s frustration with the failure of European states to progress the SES,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Every year that SES languishes in limbo is a 5 billion euro knock to European competitiveness and costs the environment 8.1 million tons of wasted carbon emissions.”
IATA, the European Regions Airline Association and the Association of European Airlines published “A Blueprint for the Single European Sky” in February, laying out how Europe can better manage its aviation industry. Recommendations included greater independence for Civil Aviation Authorities, the unbundling of support services and the formation of a Performance Review Body.
“Today’s proposal takes a clear step in the right direction, and we look forward to further details,” Tyler said. “What is missing, however, is the sense of urgency to move these key reforms forward quickly. In some cases, 2020 has been suggested as the deadline. This needs to be advanced. And each element must have a clear deadline.” - Jon Ross