The Single European Sky, the flagship project to create a single European airspace - tripling capacity and halving air traffic costs - is “not delivering” according to latest report on this issue.
Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for transport, announced his intention to present new legislative proposals in spring 2013 to accelerate implementation, as well as taking all enforcement actions possible, including infringements where necessary.
Inefficiencies caused by Europe’s fragmented airspace bring extra costs of close to €5 billion each year.
It adds 42 kilometres to the distance of an average flight, forcing aircraft to burn more fuel, generate more emissions, pay more in costly user-charges and suffer greater delays.
The United States controls the same amount of airspace, with more traffic, at almost half the cost.
Speaking at the high-level conference ‘Single European Sky: time for action’ in Limassol Kallas remarked: “I have always said that the Single European Sky is my top aviation priority.
“It is too important to be allowed to fail.
“We have fallen seriously behind in our original ambitions.
“After more than 10 years, the core problems remain the same: too little capacity generating the potential for a negative impact on safety at too high a price.
“There are some signs of change, but overall progress is too slow and too limited.
“We need to think of other solutions and apply them quickly.
“There is too much national fragmentation. Promised improvements have not materialised.”
This year is a critical year for the Single European Sky, with four key deliverables including nine Functional Airspace Blocks to be operational by December 2012.
Kallas warned that, based on progress to date, Europe is still a long way from creating a single airspace.
He said, for example, that while the FABs are to be established “we now need to make them add proper value”.
“At the moment it is clear that they will make little if any contribution towards an integrated and defragmented airspace,” he added.
The commission will bring forward new SES proposals in spring 2013.
The legislative proposals will need to be approved by member states and parliament before becoming law.