- The Single European Sky is a European Union (EU) initiative to reform air traffic management (ATM).
- New reforms in European air travel might boost efficiency, capacity, and safety while decreasing delays and environmental effect.
The plan known as the Single European Sky (SES) attempts to revamp Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) system.
The European Union’s (EU) air traffic is among the busiest in the world. Every day, thousands of planes fly across European airspace. It is critical for travellers within the EU and Schengen Area nations that planes run quickly and without delays.
However, the SES initiative has stalled because member countries have not committed to fully implementing the proposed changes. Many people are urging the EU’s air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to work toward meeting the SES targets.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, this is seen as a way to revitalise travel and boost tourism throughout Europe.
WHY IS THE SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY NEEDED?
According to the European Commission (EC), EU ATM reform is required. The existing European ATM system is failing to fulfil expectations in four critical areas:
- Environmental impact
All of these criteria will be improved by the Single European Sky initiative. This will benefit EU travellers while also creating jobs and promoting sustainability.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH EUROPE’S AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT (ATM) SYSTEM?
According to the EC, obsolete criteria are affecting European ATM. Among these are the following elements:
- National borders in the sky
- Unnecessary areas of airspace reserved for military use.
Flight routes are frequently longer than required because they must manoeuvre past these intangible barriers.
This implies that flights traversing European airspace go 49 kilometres (30.4 miles) longer than necessary. These extra kilometres squander fuel and money while increasing pollution.
Unneeded delays and cancellations are often a source of anxiety. Passengers are forced to wait when traffic controllers in a particular region are overworked or go on strike. Such delays might be reduced with a more coordinated strategy, such as that advocated in the Safe European Sky initiative.
SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY BENEFITS FOR TRAVELLERS
For travellers, the Single European Sky provides a variety of advantages. These are some examples:
- Shorter flight times
- Fewer delays
- Better crisis management
- Greater safety by preventing congestion
- More flights by increasing capacity.
There are also advantages for Europeans and the rest of the world:
- Cutting CO2 emissions
- Creating jobs
- Reducing fuel costs
In this sense, the initiative to create a Single European Sky is inextricably linked to the current EU Travel Package for tourists visiting Europe, which has recently been updated and improved.
HOW DOES SES IMPROVE AVIATION IN EUROPE?
Instead than utilising national boundaries as a marker of a section of airspace, SES wants to build “functional airspace blocks” comprising multiple European nations.
This will facilitate the creation of more direct flight routes. Shorter flight durations and less fuel use will result from more efficient use of EU airspace.
The Single European Sky policies have decreased average delays to half a minute. This is a significant improvement over the delays experienced by travellers in the 1990s and 2000s.
The following advantages are expected from the proposed improvements:
- Triple capacity of European ATM
- Reduce flight times by 10%
- Reduce delays and cancellations by 50%
- Cut CO2 emissions by up to 10% (50 million tonnes)
- Cut annual fuel costs by €5.5 billion per airline
- Create 328,000 jobs across Europe.
These European airspace enhancements will greatly benefit travelers, airlines, and the environment.
THE FUTURE OF THE SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY
The first SES Act was enacted in 2004, and it was revised in 2009. Since then, more modifications have been proposed, although they have not yet been fully implemented. Critics accuse the member nations of a “lack of commitment.”
The European Commission (EC) and organisations like The International Air Transport Association (IATA) are now urging EU and Schengen nations to fully implement the suggested reforms and integrate them into a single coordinated ATM system.
Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) across Europe are being asked to support the reforms and work together to put them into effect.
The COVID-19 epidemic and the climate problem, according to Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, are two reasons why the Safe European Sky is more crucial than ever. The SES might be critical in assisting the EU recovery strategy by restoring regular travel in Europe following the coronavirus.
Walsh was said to have said:
“The COVID-19 situation makes the SES’s efficiency improvements more crucial than ever.” And, given the current climate catastrophe, the benefits of sustainability are critical. Europe speaks a good game when it comes to the value of sustainability and competitiveness. With the SES, it’s time to put words into action. If the combined weight of the climate issue and the COVID-19 dilemma aren’t powerful enough reasons for SES, I’m not sure what is.”
In terms of travel, the EU is about to experience a number of changes in the near future. With the new ETIAS rule, this may be an excellent moment to move forward with the SES.