A record number of flights

FABEC member ANSPs handled 6.18 million flights in 2018, 3.2% more than the previous year, and the fifth consecutive year in which traffic rose faster than the baseline forecast. The total number of flights throughout European airspace also reached a record 11 million, with FABEC managing 55% of this total. Delivering a maximum of capacity to address this passenger demand was achieved as a result of close collaboration and cooperation between FABEC’s seven air navigation service providers and their military partners. 

It is not just traffic volume that is growing, but also the routes and destinations that are changing. As airlines look for new opportunities and connections, and passengers react to shifting geopolitical situations, the airspace infrastructure needs to respond to ever-changing traffic patterns. Adapting fixed resources to accommodate new routes at short notice calls for innovative solutions and shared action. 

The high traffic volume was unexpected and was most pronounced during the summer month.Between April and October monthly IFR movements were consistently 10-13% higher than the forecast level set by the FABEC Performance Plan for 2018 within Reference Period 2. It is these surges in demand which place most pressure on the fixed infrastructure and prompted FABEC to introduce new procedures in cooperation with the Network Manager. 

Early in 2018 the four most congested area control centres of Karlsruhe, MUAC, Reims and London joined forces to optimise en-route traffic flow across the whole region. ANSPs shared detailed data on their plans and projects affecting sector capacities and configurations. Mitigation measures were agreed to re-route flights through adjacent airspace, or lower airspace, to reduce the amount of traffic passing through congested sectors at peak times. The activity brought an estimated saving of five million minutes of delay, or 0.5 minutes per flight, during a period when full year delays reached a total of 19 million minutes across the continent.