Supporting predictable traffic flow

European aviation is reaping the benefits of increased demand for air travel. The liberalized aviation market has encouraged expansion of airline networks and passenger demand continues to rise. The strong traffic growth, however, is accompanied by unpredictable patterns of demand, with steep increase on some routes and sharp decline on others. Seasonal fluctuations also impact traffic flow, demanding extra resources during the summer months to handle additional flights. FABEC ANSPs worked together in 2018 in order to help provide capacity when and where it was required.

In 2018, 95% of all flights operated in FABEC en-route airspace with less than 15 minutes of delay, while 88% of all flights experienced no delay at all. However, this is more delay than both of the previous two years, when more than 97% arrived within 15 minutes and over 93% experienced no delays. This is because traffic growth is stretching available resources, and will continue to cause delays until additional controllers are recruited and infrastructure upgraded.

Air traffic management is just one of many factors behind increased delay in 2018. Airline operations remained the main cause of primary delay across Europe, contributing 44% to the average delay per flight according to the Eurocontrol CODA digest, compared with 35% attributed to Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM). However, while the airline contribution rose marginally over 2018, ATFM delay increased significantly, especially in the en-route sector, with air traffic control capacity, staffing and weather being the largest contributory factors.

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