Brussels loses patience over Single Sky delays

Siim Kallas. Latvia, 2012. [Valsts kanceleja/ Flickr]

The European Commission sent formal letters to 18 EU countries yesterday (10 July), urging them to improve their Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), the cornerstones of a single European airspace, saying implementation delays were hurting consumers, airlines and the environment.

Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom will all have to improve their FABs in order to make the European airspace cheaper, more efficient and more environment-friendly, the Commission said.

The letters of formal notice were sent as a part of the Commission's July infringement package and could lead to legal proceedings if the countries do not react within two months.

Under the Single European Sky legislation, national air traffic control organisations should work together in nine regional airspace blocks, or FABs, to increase efficiency, cut costs and reduce emissions.

The set-up of these common airspace blocks is arranged around traffic flows rather than state boundaries, which is expected to bring efficiencies in the entire European Air Traffic Management. If implemented, FABs are expected to bring an estimated €5 billion in savings annually.

The European Commissioner for transport, Siim Kallas, said, "We have to finally overcome national borders in the European airspace. FABs are a necessary, vital component of the Single European Sky. Right now these common airspaces exist only on paper; they are formally established but not yet functional. I urge member states to step up their ambitions and push forward the implementation of the Single Sky."

The European Commission had given EU member states until 4 December 2012 to implement their FABs but progress has been slow.

“This means more delays, the consumption of more fuel and therefore more greenhouse gas emissions, and more money charged to airlines. With today's letters of formal notice the Commission asks member states to act in order to optimise the implementation of FABs and air navigation services,” the executive said in a statement.

Holding back the full implementation of the EU’s Single European Sky creates inefficiencies in European air traffic management. Overall this represents a loss of €5 billion per year and negatively impacts safety enhancements, the Commission warned.

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Joe Thorpe's picture

What this fool really means in respect of the UK is that the RAF shouldnt be allowed to train in the air so passenger airliners can take over the airspace or maybe he thinks we should be like the rest of the EU & get rid of a significant air force & reduce it to the odd trainer jet & helecopter?

Eurochild's picture

You're right, Joe Thorpe, it's all just a dastardly plot to destroy the great United Kingdom and emasculate its armed forces, starting with the Battle of Britain heroes in the RAF.

The idea that in a single market we should have a single airspace for commercial flights so they can be cheaper and provide a better service is totally EUSSR and it's only aim is to destroy liberty.

Thank God David Cameron's EU policy is based on pandering to the Joe Thorpe types, because they are truly showing him the right direction to take and make perfect sense.

And, for euractiv, what is this nonsense that if you are trying to post a reply, you can't see the actual article?

GeorgeMc's picture

I don' think this applies to military airspace Joe, which will still remain under the control of the various military authorities. The boys can still have sport buzzing Lufthansa :)

an european's picture

I can imagine that the E.U. Governance is a little bit (to much) angry !
I remember that this could be achieved long ago !
This (single sky) is really as I said long ago too .. a really homogenous aerial infrastructure!
Why turning and wasting khero.. by turning the plane ! Why wasting so much euro money's on different aerial Hardware !
Why complicated if thus can be achieved very simple through the sky !

Americans are doing very well on this matters !
It's clear !

El Pluribus Unum

A Londoner's picture

Are you sure this article is correct? According to what I found on the web the Irish/UK functional airspace block has been running since 2009 and was the first (or second) FAB to be registered.