Brussels warns unified EU airspace plans off track

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Brussels is planning to sanction EU countries who fail to co-operate towards creating a pan-European air space.

In a bid to eliminate fragmentation and increase efficiency, the European Commission launched the so-called European Single Sky plan over 10 yeras ago. It aimed at condensating 27 national airspaces into 9 blocks.

But member states are nowhere near meeting their targets.

‘Where do we stand today? Firstly, the performance scheme, which is essential for the Single Sky to become a reality and success. But we made clear that countries differed widely in their efforts in making the recommended changes needed. This is the only way for airspace users to benefit from higher cost-efficiency, safety and capacity, as well as a positive impact on the environment’, said EU Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas.

With EU airspace currently divided into over 600 sections and managed by 27 national systems, aircrafts are forced to take longer routs. According to the Commission, this fragmentation causes serious delays for passangers, an increase of airline ticket prices and extra emmissions.

“Within 10 years, the average flight in Europe should have fallen from its 900-800 euros starting point to 600, not to 715 that it is today. That is still a long way off the price in the US, a country that already controlls the same air space area with more traffic at roughly half the cost. So if member states continue to fail to deliver who suffers: passangers, businesses and the European economy’, said EU Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas.

The Commission estimates that this fragmentation amounts to around 5 billion euros a year of extra costs. Air traffic control currently represents between six and 12 percent of the price of a plane ticket.

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