The European Parliament is to vote Wednesday on the Better Airports package, a group of reforms meant to increase European airport capacity and reduce delays.
The package includes legislation on ground-handling, noise and EU's complicated slot rules, which are takeoff and landing vouchers granted to airlines that allow them to use runways and terminals at a specified time. If the legislation passes, carriers would be able to trade slots between airlines and EU commissioners would have a better control over making sure airlines use the slots they have been given, ensuring all available capacity is being used. According to an EU press release, these new slot rules would be worth 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) over the next decade.
For noise restrictions, the European Union is hoping to simply increase transparency in the decision-making process when member states decide to impose noise restrictions on airports. The commission would also have an oversight role in the process. The new legislation would also make it easier for airport authorities to phase out the loudest, oldest aircraft. Noise restrictions are one of the reasons a number of airports in the EU don't allow night flights.
European Commissioner of Transport Siim Kallas said EU airports are staring at a capacity crunch that must be solved quickly. He pointed to the fact that 70 percent of flight delays are caused by issues at airports, not in the air — something this package would address.
trends, 19 key European airports will be full to bursting by 2030.
The resulting congestion could mean delays for half of all flights
across the network. The status quo is not an option for airports in
Europe. Faced with intense global competition, if we do not change the
way we do business, we may not be doing business at all," he said in a statement.
Five European airports are currently operating at full capacity, and the commission predicts that this number will jump to 19 by 2030 if corrective actions aren't taken. - Jon Ross