IATA is "two or three weeks away" from announcing its first agreements with national air navigation service providers (ANSPs) under a revised effort towards achieving its Single European Sky (SES) goal.
Speaking at the association's AGM in Cancun today, Rafael Schvartzman, IATA's regional vice-president for Europe, says: "It's good that we work together [with national authorities] to align rather than confronting each other" as the region prepares to cope with rising traffic in already congested airspace over the next few years.
Earlier this year, IATA changed tack in Europe amid slow progress towards airspace harmonisation. It is now targeting agreements with national ANSPs as a step towards eventually achieving a SES, which remains "several years" away.
"What we're trying now is working together with the national organisations in charge of airspace management, to put together a national airspace strategy which will help the airlines... in terms of building resilience, and having smart analysis of cost and benefit," says Schvartzman.
"It will definitely drive in the right direction towards increased efficiency, and also align ourselves towards one day being able to achieve the Single European Sky."
Citing the impact of ATC industrial action in particular over the past 12 months, Schvartzman says many ANSPs in Europe do not have a national aerospace strategy. IATA is therefore aiming to work with these ANSPs to agree measures to cope with disruptive developments such as industrial action and technical breakdowns.
"By doing this, we can increase the resistance of the system," Schvartzman says. "Having a national airspace strategy means we should be able to mitigate [the impact of] those situations."
IATA highlights ATC strikes alone as causing more than one million minutes of delays in Europe in 2016.
"What we're finding is that it’s a win-win – if we work together… we make sure we are serving the passenger in the best way possible. And there are economic benefits – [reducing delays] has a direct impact on our economy."