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MEPs press case for single European sky

Airline cancellations and delays would be halved by creating a single European air traffic control area.

The estimate from the European Commission came as MEPs pressed for the implementation of a merger of national air traffic control spaces without further delays.

In a resolution adopted yesterday (Tuesday) MEPs said creation of a single European sky would help clear congestion, boost safety, reduce flight times, delays and fares, create jobs and cut CO2 emissions.

They want the Commission to put pressure on member states, including possible sanctions, to meet their obligations.

The Commission estimates that the full and swift deployment of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) technology would lead to the creation of 328,000 jobs and cut CO2 emissions by some 50 million tonnes.

Passengers and airlines would benefit from cost reductions as congestion would be relieved, flight times would be cut by some 10% on average and cancellations and delays would be halved.

Conservative MEP and spokesman on transport and tourism Jacqueline Foster said: “We have to have proper, efficient use of air space and 21st century technology for traffic management available to avoid the consumer having to pay twice: in time and in price.”

Foster, who drafted the resolution which was adopted by a show of hands, added: “Defragmentation of European air space is unacceptably slow.”

She called for “greater urgency in order to avoid possible safety and operational risks with increasing traffic flows”.

EU member states made firm commitments to merge their national air control spaces into nine Functional Airspace Blocks by December 4 and to move progressively towards a single European sky.

But only two such blocks are ready, over Scandinavian skies and the UK and Ireland.

MEPs called for ‘performance indicator schemes’ to be implemented and called on the Commission to adopt a ‘top-down approach’ by proposing new legislation, including possible sanctions and EU funding where necessary.

The Single European Sky initiative was launched in 2004 to reform air traffic management across Europe.

Its key objectives are to restructure European airspace to create additional capacity and increase the overall efficiency and safety of air traffic.

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