We must reorganise European airspace to ensure passengers face less delays when they are travelling by air, according to Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune. To ensure this happens more cooperation is needed between national air navigation service providers.
There needs to be more effective management of the European airspace network. For next year at the European Parliament I would hope for movement on the Single European Sky Package, which would create less chaos in European skies.
In the first eight months of this year, European flights were delayed by a combined 14.1 million minutes, double the rate compared to the same period a year earlier. This is in addition to strikes across Europe which are also having an affect on the efficient running of the air space.
In 2018, 24 strike days have caused 5,000 flight cancellations and thousands of delays, affecting millions of travellers. Also figures show that there was a four-fold increase in flight delays over 15 minutes in May 2018 (56,000) compared to May 2017 (14,000).
2018 is expected to be the busiest year so far in terms of air traffic, with 11 million flights. It is estimated that 50,000 passengers are facing delays - every day - of up to two hours in airports across Europe. The system needs an urgent upgrade. The Single European Sky Package also needs to be pushed forward and this would help with chaos in European skies.
Eurocontrol said in a recent report that flights in its region are due to increase by 53% by 2040 but airport capacity is set to rise by only 16%. It predicts that by 2040, around 470,000 passengers per day will be delayed by up to two hours, compared to 50,000 today. Delays are set to increase by 53% this year alone.
I have asked the European Commission to develop an overflight system that would allow flights cross territorial air space, at an increased height, allowing flights from Ireland to continue during a strike by French air traffic controllers. We cannot keep allowing these strikes to affect air travel and we have recently seen more disruption and cancellations as a result of the strikes. A4E (airlines for Europe) which includes Ryanair and AIG among others have called for this also.
I welcomed the European Commission’s list of good practices to enhance airspace efficiency in its summer 2017 package but I believe more action needs to be taken urgently. This year is the worst on record for delays and cancellations caused by air traffic control.