European Parliament agrees on unified airspace

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Wednesday, the European Parliament approved the "Single European Sky II" legislation that will lead to the creation of a single European airspace. The single European airspace will result in "more efficient rules, leading to shorter flights, fewer delays and reduced fuel consumption". In turn, this should result in fewer CO2 emissions and cheaper ticket prices. Implementation should be completed by 2012.

Currently the European airspace consists of 650 parts with 60 different control centers and 27 air traffic control (ATC) zones. International flights have to switch between national air traffic control zones, also known as "blocks", when they enter another country. This leads to delays and bottlenecks, causing airplanes to consume more fuel.

Euro parliamentarian Corien Wortmann stated that "the EU countries have stepped on the break for years in creating a European airspace, because they wanted to keep influence over their own airspace. Luckily that resistance is now broken." ((translated from Dutch))Dutch language: ‍De EU-landen hebben jarenlang op de rem gestaan bij de vorming van een Europees luchtruim, omdat ze eigen zeggenschap over hun luchtruim wilde houden. Gelukkig is die weerstand nu doorbroken. Euro parliamentarian Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert agrees: "Everyone agrees - in theory - that this is important for security, efficiency, reliability, cost reduction, capacity improvement en durability. But self-interest of organizations and countries appeared often more important." ((translated from Dutch))Dutch language: ‍Iedereen is het er - in theorie - over eens dat dit van belang is voor veiligheid, efficiëntie, betrouwbaarheid, kostenverlaging, capaciteitsverbetering en duurzaamheid. Maar zelfbelang van organisaties en landen bleek soms vaak belangrijker.

Benefits for the aviation industry over the next ten years are estimated at 2 to 3 billion. CO2 emissions should be cut with approximately 16 million tonnes. As a first step the airspace of Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland will be combined. The European transport ministers are expected to approve the legislation at the end of March.