The European Air Group (EAG) is due this week to rubber-stamp a decision to create a joint co-ordination centre, which paves the way for closer European air transport ties. Airlift was one of the areas highlighted as a major deficiency in the lessons from the 1999 Kosovo conflict.

A steering group has drawn up plans to place a co-ordination cell at the Royal Netherlands Air Force base at Eindhoven. Air force commanders of seven countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK - will meet to approve the plan in Berlin on 7 June. It is expected to be a rubber-stamp exercise, according to a UK Royal Air Force source. Once approved, the cell is expected to be in operation by September.

Although initially the cell will have no tasking authority, it is likely that any eventual joint command centre will build on infrastructure laid down at the base. Personnel requirements are likely to be minimal as future capacity and demand matching will be performed through the Ataris internet virtual marketplace.

The Netherlands joined EAG in February and strengthened its co-operation by signing a transport memorandum of understanding (MoU) last month.


Six of the seven countries are also Airbus Military Company A400M lead customers. Joint training and maintenance for the airlifter has also been discussed.

An A400M MoU is due to be signed by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK at the Paris air show, with a contract to be signed by October. Germany is expected to cut its requirement from 73 aircraft to 52-55, say industry sources.

Source: Flight International