The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments and ANSPs to manage and invest correctly to deal with Air Traffic Management (ATM) delays.
According to data from Eurocontrol, the first half of 2018 saw ATM delays double to 47,000 minutes per day, a 133% jump from the same period in 2017.
Commenting on the figures, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said that although the current problems cannot be rectified instantly, 2019 must not see a repeat of the issue.
"We are in the summer season in Europe. Travelers want to get to their holidays on time. And too many will be disappointed because of air traffic delays," he said.
"The impact of ATC delays ripple throughout the economy. At a time when Europe’s competitiveness urgently needs to be improved, increasing ATM delays is totally unacceptable. Travelers are fed-up. Change must start now."
Delays are usually caused by shortages in staffing and capacity, while weather delays and disruptive events like strikes can also add to the hold-ups. ANSPs manage each State’s airspace and charges overflight fees for the services they provide.
At a time when Europe’s competitiveness urgently needs to be improved, increasing ATM delays is totally unacceptable. Travelers are fed-up. Change must start now
The average delay caused by ATC limitations reached 20 minutes in July, while the longest was recorded at 337 minutes.
To address the problem, IATA has devised a four-point plan. The points include:
• Modernizing the infrastructure and ensuring implementation of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR)
• Reforming outdated work practices
• Empowering the European Network Manager to plan the network accordingly for travelers
• Ensuring failing ANSPs are properly penalised.
IATA says ANSPs are failing to make the correct investments.
"We should be making progress, but delays are double those of last year. There is no quick fix for this year. But the needed solutions are well-known. With the correct investment and planning by governments and ANSPs we can, and must, make next year better," said de Juniac.
According to IATA, key ANSPs have chosen to chase super-normal profits, rather than spending profits wisely on the business. At some of the largest providers, a lack of investment in staff and outdated employment practices hit passengers the hardest as unnecessary delays ensue.