Air traffic control in Europe urgently needs modernising in order to reduce congestion, boost safety, reduce flight times, delays and fares, create jobs and cut CO2 emissions, say transport and tourism committee MEPs in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. They want the Commission to put pressure on member states to meet their obligations, possibly with sanctions.
"We have to have proper, efficient use of air space and 21st century technology for traffic management available to avoid the consumer having to pay twice: in time and in price", said Jacqueline Foster (ECR, UK), who drafted the non-binding resolution.
"More than 10 years ago we agreed on the Single European Sky (SES) legislation, now it's time to deliver", said Ms Foster. "We need to send a strong message to the member states: put your money where your mouth is. Dragging on and on is not acceptable for us as parliamentarians, for citizens or businesses."
Huge economic potential remains untapped
The Commission estimates that the full and swift deployment of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) technology would lead to the direct and indirect creation of 328 000 jobs, as well as saving some 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Passengers would benefit as congestion would be relieved, flight times would be cut by some 10% on average and cancellations and delays would be halved. Air fares could also fall. However, a 10-year delay in implementing SESAR would mean losses of around €268 billion, some 190 000 fewer new jobs created and around 55 million tonnes less CO2 saved, according to the Commission.
Moves to merge European airspace are too slow
Member states made firm commitments to merge their national air control spaces into nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB) by 4 December 2012 and to evolve progressively towards a single European sky. However, only two such blocks are ready, in the Scandinavian skies and over Ireland and the UK. To speed up the process, MEPs call for the implementation of performance schemes and ask the Commission to adopt a a top-down approach by proposing new legislation, including possible sanctions and, where necessary, EU-funding.
The Single European Sky initiative was launched in 2004 to reform the architecture of European air traffic management. Its key objectives are to restructure European airspace to create additional capacity and increase the overall efficiency and safety of air traffic.
Its main features are common rules and standards in a European airspace without borders and the separation of regulatory activities from service provision, to allow air traffic management services to operate across borders.
The Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) programme provides Europe with high-performance air traffic control infrastructure and technology to develop safe and environmentally-friendly air transport.
The resolution was adopted by 37 votes to 0, with 1 abstention.
In the chair: Brian Simpson (S&D, UK)
Procedure: own-initiative report