EU aims to cut airport waiting times across Europe and bring air-traffic control under one manageable umbrella. (Roland Tarcillion/Getty Images)


Flying high? EU hopes to end air-traffic chaos across bloc


The European Union agreed on a deal to unjam air-traffic reform in a bid to bring order to what many have described as a mosaic of airspace regulations that is blamed for chronic passenger and freight delays and unnecessary additional emissions across Europe.

The current Belgian EU presidency said on March 6 that negotiators from the European Council and European Parliament had reached provisional agreement on reforming the “Single European Sky”, aiming to increase capacity, lower costs and increase the air-traffic control system’s adaptability, while also trying to reduce aviation’s environmental impact.

The deal comes after decades of foot-dragging, political divisions and union opposition, and still needs to be approved by the Council and the European Parliament.

The deal “will enable major progress in reducing CO2 emissions from the aviation sector, and will also give member states more tools to limit the nuisance generated by aeronautical activity,” Georges Gilkinet, the Belgian minister for mobility, said.

Under the agreement, Member States will set up national supervisory authorities to assess air-traffic controls’ structure and financial sustainability.

Member States can merge economic and safety oversight functions in the same administrative entity, cutting red tape and conforming to common organisational models.

The new regulation will incentivise the use of the most fuel-efficient routing and increased use of alternative clean-propulsion technologies, enabling air-traffic network manager Eurocontrol to make more sustainable and efficient use of the airspace, Gilkinet said.