EU's Transport Commissioner Threatens Legal Action Against States
The European Union's Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas is threatening legal action against member nations after they failed to meet a key deadline for a "Single European Sky." The EU is working to redesign the Continent's air traffic system, currently a hodgepodge of 27 separate national airspaces, into nine "Functional Airspace Blocs" (FABs). The system was to have been fully operational by Tuesday.
Kallas (pictured) is quoted by the French News Service AFP as saying "We will take every possible action to make the single European sky a reality. At a time of economic crisis we cannot afford to live with the status quo."
The EU says that by creating the FABs, they could triple capacity for airliners flying in Europe. The airline industry in Europe estimates that the inefficiencies of the current system cost airlines over €5 billion ($6.54 billion) every year, and that it further causes an unnecessary 13 million tonnes (14.2 short tons) of CO2 to be emitted per year, equivalent to 10 percent of current aviation emissions in EU airspace.
The European airline industry also blasted the missed deadline. In a joint news release, the Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carrier Association (IACA) said they are united in condemning EU Member States for their reluctance to properly implement Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), a key ingredient for the successful delivery of Single European Sky II (SES II).
According to the associations, the member states have had eight years to comply with the Regulation, yet they have not moved much further than the mere creation of FABs. The intent of the legislation with respect to FABs was to drive defragmentation of European airspace, enabling significantly enhanced efficiency, while delivering cost-effectiveness improvements. The current situation of individual Air Navigation Service Providers in the 27 Member States around Europe operating as independent service providers is extremely inefficient -
“The current situation is scandalous," the statement from the airline associations said. "It is not enough to create Functional Airspace Blocks in name only. FABs must be demonstrably business-driven, generating tangible operational efficiencies, significant cost savings and environmental benefits. We are dismayed that lack of political will by Member States has stalled any hoped-for progress. We remind Member States that, together with the Parliament, they themselves signed up to the Single European Sky Regulation, admitting that the current highly inefficient situation is unacceptable and must be addressed urgently.” We therefore urge Transport Commissioner Kallas to follow up on his warning to Member States at the EU Aviation Summit in Cyprus on 12 October 2012, and launch infringement procedures against defaulting states.
“This would send a clear signal to Member States that they are no longer able to hide behind window-dressing exercises and defensive arguments re sovereignty. Instead political will is urgently needed to implement meaningful FABs to bring about a truly Single European Sky. Without these we will simply not achieve the vital elimination of unnecessary fuel burn with resultant emissions, to the benefit of the environment. Nor will we see elimination of excess cost, so urgently required by the economies of Europe and European consumers.”