Eurocontrol: traffic increases, ATC delays decrease

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Good news for passengers across the continent: figures for June 2023, the first month of summer, show that while traffic is in 7% increase compared to June 2022, air traffic flow management (ATFM) delays per flight are down 8% drop at 3.7 minutes per flight.

According to Eurocontrol, European network manager, traffic levels in June 2023 in many parts of Europe “are equal to or higher than those of June 2019”. In some parts of south-eastern Europe in particular, they are up to 15% higher than 2019. Overall AFTM delays in June are 7% lower than June 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic. “This clear positive trend comes despite the reduction of available airspace by the war in Ukraine and shows that close cooperation between all operational partners in preparation for the summer is yielding good results and minimizing delays,” emphasizes the press release from Eurocontrol.

Who explains “working closely since September 2022 with airlines, ANSPs, the military and airports because it became apparent very quickly that the summer of 2023 would be very complex to manage due to a combination of factors”. In particular a significant increase in the number of flights, up to 20% less airspace available due to the war in Ukraine, “greater structural volatility and potential disruptions”.

Specific areas experience stresses caused by local issues “such as infrastructure or personnel”, adds the organization (without mentioning the French strikes for example). Where they exist, Eurocontrol continues to work with its partners “to mitigate the impacts as much as possible”. As for the months of July and August, Eurocontrol “will continue to do everything possible in full partnership with the operational players to maintain this positive start to the summer”. A series of actions were identified by the stakeholders:

  • First Spin Priority
  • Compliance with the flight plan
  • Realistic schedules, including turnaround times
  • Provide agreed capabilities

These actions “have largely contributed to the fact that the European air network has achieved very good performance for the first part of the summer”. Eurocontrol’s Network Operation Plan, “which is a weekly seasonal assessment of the network situation and how it is being dealt with”, identifies certain areas where available capacity is currently less than expected demand. This is done to allow operational stakeholders in these areas to “make the necessary adjustments to try to make up any shortfall”. It is not a prediction of specific delays in these areas.

In June 2023, flights increased by 7% compared to June 2022; there were 960,298 total flights on the European network last month, compared to 894,310 in 2022.

  • ATFM delays per flight decreased by 8% compared to June 2022. This improvement “comes despite the fact that weather delays (which are included in the ATFM delays figure)” increased by 50% in June compared to the same months last year.
  • ATFM delays are 3.7 minutes per flight in June 2023
  • Comparing June 2023 to June 2019, total ATFM delays are down 7%.

Eurocontrol also recalls that last month, a major military exercise took place in the central zone of Europe. This was “successfully managed with lower than expected civil traffic delays thanks to the proactive actions of all stakeholders: only 12,474 flights were directly delayed out of a total of 293,928 flights (4% of the total).

EUROCONTROL is a pan-European civil-military organization dedicated to supporting European aviation. As the European Network Manager, we play a central coordinating role, using our technical expertise to support Member States and a wide range of stakeholders (air navigation service providers, civil and military airspace users, airports and aircraft/equipment manufacturers). We strive to make European aviation safe, efficient, scalable, cost effective and environmentally sustainable, partnering with the European Union to make the Single European Sky a reality.

John Walker Avatar