Urgent progress is being urged to develop a single European sky (SES) through improved air traffic control systems.

SES is a proposed initiative by which the design, management and regulation of airspace will be coordinated throughout the European Union.

The call came from Iata as it got together with the Association of European Airlines and the European Regions Airline Association to produce a report – A Blueprint for the Single European Sky – outlining a “clear roadmap” for achieving a single European sky.

Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “Some tough choices need to be made. Our report may not be the only way forward, but whatever is agreed, we need an overall plan to realise the SES.

“And we urgently need to make progress by agreeing to the essential reforms and getting on with delivering them.”

Speaking at the world air traffic management congress in Madrid, he warned: “European aviation is in crisis; over the past year we have said goodbye to names like Malev and Spanair, and we are looking at 2013 being a second year of European aviation only breaking even.

“Airlines need to reduce cost wherever possible, and European air traffic management is costing €5 billion extra a year in inefficiency. That is not sustainable and something needs to be done about it.”

Tyler added: “It is time for action on air traffic management performance. Globally aviation generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity and supports 57 million jobs.

“Making airspace more efficient and cutting costs will provide a big boost to the ability of airlines to connect more markets. So we need to roll up our sleeves, work together as partners, and build a stronger air traffic management system.”