Europe's air traffic movements (ATMs) decreased in 2001 compared with the previous year for the first time since Eurocontrol's Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) began measuring traffic flow in 1996, according to the Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA). The percentage of flights delayed by air traffic flow management restrictions, and the average delay per movement were also down.

The decrease in ATMs in the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) states was slight at 0.5%, with the CFMU recording more than 8.4 million movements. The average delay per movement dropped by 13% from 3.7min in 2000 to 3.3min last year. In 1999, the region saw its worst performance, with 5.3min average delay per ATM.

CODA says the traffic reduction and the improved delay figures were due to the economic downturn, and the effects on air travel of the events of 11 September, as well as the failure of Sabena and Swissair. The main causes of flow restriction were lack of air traffic control (ATC) capacity, weather factors and ATC staffing or equipment.

Last year, 16% of flights were delayed, compared with 18% the previous year. Geneva, Switzerland, showed up as the airport at which flights were most likely to be delayed, with almost one in three departures affected, while Milan Malpensa, Italy, suffered the highest risk of delay to arriving flights at 37.6%. Switzerland was the ATC black spot of Europe with the highest risk of delays.

Eurocontrol has selected SITA to provide high-speed internet protocol access to the CFMU, which manages the flow of air traffic demand and capacity. SITA has won two three-year contracts, with the first giving national air traffic services providers secure access to the CFMU and phase two giving airlines access to the CFMU for slot allocation and route information.

Source: Flight International