European Single European Sky II proposals promise annual savings of 16 million tonnes of CO2
Thu 26 June 2008 – The European Commission has adopted the second package of legislation, known as Single European Sky II (SES II), for reforming Europe’s air traffic management system. The package is based on four pillars and places environmental issues at its core, says the Commission, with prospective emissions reductions of 10 percent per flight. This is calculated to save an overall 16 million tonnes of CO2 savings per year and a reduction of annual costs by 2.4 billion euros ($3.8bn).
The first pillar introduces several enhancements to the original SES legislation, including binding performance targets for air navigation service providers, a European network management function to ensure convergence between national networks and a definitive date for Member States to improve performance, initially through a cross-border cooperative approach known as Functional Airspace Blocks, which group together existing control areas according to established traffic flows rather than national frontiers.
The second pillar focuses on introducing better technology in which the SESAR programme aims to develop and operate a new generation, Europe-wide air traffic management system, which is expected to handle a forecasted doubling of air traffic by 2020.
A safety pillar provides for increased responsibilities for the European Aviation safety Agency (EASA) to ensure precise, uniform and binding rules for airport safety, air traffic management and air navigation services, as well as oversight of their implementation by Member States.
The final pillar is an initiative to tackle airport capacity issues, such as the shortage of runways and airport facilities, which, says the Commission, currently threatens to become a major bottleneck. It seeks to better coordinate airport slots issued to aircraft operators with air traffic management measures as well as the establishment of an airport capacity ‘observatory’ to fully integrate airports in the aviation network.
“This package is a win-win for passengers, for Europe’s economy and for the environment,” said the new Transport Commissioner, Antonio Tajani. “The skies in Europe are still fragmented. As a consequence, flights are on average 49km longer than needed. Our proposal aims at helping reduce queues to take off and land, and passengers will have more chance of arriving on time. At the same time, the package will help us deliver safer and greener flying, while creating more capacity.”
The proposals were welcomed by airline trade associations. “The Single European Sky – once achieved – will reduce delays for passengers, and substantial amounts of unnecessary CO2 emissions will be removed from the atmosphere,” said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
However, he warned that the most challenging part of the process was not the drafting of the legislation, but its implementation. “The reason we have a second package is because the first, which saw the light of day four years ago, has stalled through reluctance on the part of EU Member States to pool their sovereign airspaces as a shared European resource.”
The AEA took the opportunity of linking SES with current moves to include aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. For every year of an unrealized Single Sky following the introduction of the scheme, it argued that airlines would have to acquire permits for an estimated 12 million tonnes of CO2 arising from route inefficiencies. “Europe’s politicians must realize that the Single Sky is inseparable from their ambitious climate change targets,” said Schulte-Strathaus.
Also commenting, Peter Hartman, Chairman of the AEA and President and CEO of KLM, said: “The SES concept depends primarily on national governments’ commitment to a vision of a borderless sky. The AEA pins its hopes on the Transport Ministers of EU Member States taking the right decisions when they meet in October of this year. The stakes could not be higher – for the airlines, their passengers and the environment.”
The International Air Transport Association’s Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, said: “This is a step in the right direction but we have a lot of ground to cover before a Single European Sky can become a reality.
“Only with the support of national governments will the European Parliament and the Council be able to follow up on Vice President Tajani’s quick action. I urge Europe’s national governments to put aside local politics and focus on what is best for Europe and for the environment. That is a Single European Sky with the ambitious objective of a 10% improvement in carbon emissions and fuel savings.”
Commenting on behalf of the International Air Carrier Association, Director General Sylviane Lust said: “The implementation of a genuine Single European Sky is long overdue. It is absolutely vital for European aviation in helping reduce flight times, costs and CO2 emissions.
“There should be no excuses from EU Member States now for not implementing this package quickly as the benefits are clear to see, especially as it will deliver significant reductions in CO2 emissions from aviation.”