Flight delays increased by 300% at some European airports last summer due to poor infrastructure and understaffing at tighter EU borders, according to the pressure group A4E.
At its annual summit meeting in Brussels, A4E said up to 5% of passengers missed their connecting flights every day because of the delays last year.
Member airline CEOs met with European policymakers and industry stakeholders at the summit to discuss ways to avoid a repeat of last year’s experience.
“While recognising that some member States have taken measures to alleviate the situation, we remain cautious as still more needs to be done in terms of staffing and investments in automation,” said A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert.
A4E claims EU Regulation has added about 20 seconds to the processing time at the border for every passenger, adding an average of an hour for every flight. It says this is having ‘a disproportionate impact on the flow of traffic at European airports.
“Another frustrating issue for passengers are the delays caused by understaffed ATC and the insufficient capacity of the system,” said Reynaert.
“While air traffic in 2017 increased 4.4% compared with 2016, the amount of Air Traffic Flow Management average daily delay minutes increased by 6.9%.”
“This represents the equivalent of more than an entire day of additional delay. Turning to 2018, traffic is expected to continue to grow significantly. Therefore, there is an urgent need to pursue network-wide improvements in 2018 and beyond – which we are actively addressing with all Air Navigation Service Providers.”
Based on the latest figures by Eurocontrol’s Network Manager, en-route daily delays related to air traffic control capacity issues or staffing problems have increased by 14.6% and 20.6% respectively.
“A4E member airlines expect ATC to apply additional measures and constraints in 2018 to best mitigate these shortfalls. Otherwise, airlines will again have to fly longer routes, specific routes will have to be restricted or flights will be delayed on the ground. This, in turn, causes knock-on effects throughout the network, including airline crews exceeding their working hours, leading to frustrating delays for passengers,” added Reynaert.
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