The weakest levels of ambition in the history of the Single European Sky (SES) Performance and Charging scheme were approved by EU member states last week.
These performance targets will reward poorly performing Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) whilst frustrating those who are already delivering. They will not incentivise the performance improvements the European airspace network desperately needs, nor will they support the delivery of the Single European Sky benefits. Combined with outdated staffing practices which do not provide the required resource levels in peak periods it becomes evident that real reform of this sector is urgently needed.
The European Commission (EC) recently commissioned an academic study to benchmark the performance of air navigation service providers (ANSPs). The study conservatively estimated EU-wide cost-inefficiencies in the range of 25-30%, due to ANSPs’ poor performance. The current underspending by ANSPs on planned capital investments and staffing – already paid for by airspace users and their passengers – should not continue to be rewarded. In 2018, this contributed to delays of more than 19 million minutes — 105% more than in 2017. Moving forward, every participant in the target setting process needs to ensure that national performance targets will challenge ANSPs to deliver consistent improvements or face financial penalties.