European carriers and industry bodies are campaigning for the implementation of air traffic management efficiency improvement measures ahead of the 2020 deadline for the Single European Sky initiative.

Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber said at the European Aviation Summit in Frankfurt in April that SES should be "tackled immediately" and is calling for an end to "zigzag" flight routings in Europe. Croatia Airlines chief executive Ivan Misetic told the summit he believes the alignment of the SES research programme (SESAR) with Eurocontrol "has to happen" and that he also would like to see "better utilisation" of Europe's ATM system.

Eurocontrol director general Victor Aguado points out that SES is 40 years overdue. "We don't need to wait for 2020," he says. "Things can be done today to gain efficiency, and €600 million [$816 million] in efficiencies could be introduced in five to six years."

Olaf Dlugi, executive committee chairman of the SESAR initiative, agrees a number of measures to improve efficiency in European air traffic management could be introduced immediately, but says governments prevent this by "hiding behind the military argument" when it comes to using designated military airspace for commercial flights.

"There is a very good relationship between the military side and SESAR management. The military says there is no problem and that governments are using this as a shield," Dlugi says. "There is a lot SESAR can do, but without the political will of individual states, this is going to be a lame duck."

Daniel Calleja Crespo, director of the European Commission's air transport directorate, says much has been achieved since March 2004, but a great deal remains: "We need to continue institutional reform and serious issues with governments need to be tackled. Europe is paying a high price for fragmentation. There is huge room for improvement."

But air navigation providers, which would be called upon to consolidate under the SES initiative, are calling for incentives. "We want to see [SES] commercialised and incentivised. Beating us over the head with a big stick won't work," says Eamonn Brennan, executive committee deputy chairman at the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation.

Source: Airline Business