Single European Sky (SES)
Since 2004, the European Union has competence in air traffic management (ATM) and therefore the decision-making process has passed from the member countries to the EU.
The goal was to reform air traffic management in Europe, in order to cope with the growth of air traffic and to operate in safer, more cost-efficient and flight-friendly and environmentally friendly conditions. The defragmentation of the European airspace has been carried out, delays have been reduced, safety standards and flight efficiency have been increased, also reducing the environmental impact, and the service costs..
The Coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the entire transport sector and the air sector, even dramatically.
The European Single Sky is an holistic approach based on the following pillars:
- the regulatory framework based on performance
- the safety pillar
- the technological contribution
- the human factor
- the optimization of airport infrastructure
The SES also intervenes in the field of international relations: association and integration of third countries into the EU legal framework and regional cooperation activities carried out at the level of international Organisations, such as ICAO and Eurocontrol.
Hence, EU representatives are active in these organizations to ensure overall coherence between its action in external relations and the action undertaken under the aegis of these organizations.
The Commission also promotes operational cooperation agreements with Air Navigation Service Providers of key EU partners in order to better manage intercontinental traffic to and from the EU and improve the performance of the European ATM network.
The legislative framework of the Single European Sky (SES) consists of:
- Regulation (EC) No 549/2004 laying down the framework for the creation of the single European sky (the framework Regulation)
- Regulation (EC) No 550/2004 on the provision of air navigation services in the single European sky
- Regulation (EC) No 551/2004 on organisation and use of the airspace in the single European sky (the airspace Regulation)
- Regulation (EC) No 552/2004 on the interoperability of the European air traffic management networkSingle European Sky II
- Regulation (EC) No 219/2007 setting up a Joint Undertaking to develop the EU's air traffic management system (SESAR)
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/317 of 11 February 2019 laying down a performance and charging scheme in the single European sky
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 923/2012 of 26 September 2012 laying down the common rules of the air and operational provisions regarding services and procedures in air navigation
Some background statistics
- The European ANS system covers 37 air navigation service providers (ANSPs) participating in a cost-efficiency benchmarking report, which is a business of EUR 8.6 bn with some 57 000 staff (compared to Airbus worldwide employment of 52 000) and 16 900 are air traffic controllers (ATC) compared to 13 000 ATC in the USA.
- In 2014, the European ATM system controlled 26 800 flights on an average daily basis.
- As a result of the SES policy, average delays for en-route air traffic flow management are now close to 0.5 min per flight, which is a remarkable achievement compared to the heavy delays that occurred in the 1990s and 2000s.
- On average each flight is 49 km longer than the direct flight.
- European airspace: 10.8 million km², 60 control centres - fragmentation of airspace.
- Estimated costs of fragmentation of airspace amounts to EUR 4 bn a year.
- Five biggest ANSPs (DFS for Germany, DSNA for France, ENAIRE for Spain, ENAV for Italy and NATS for the UK) bear 60 % of total European gate-to-gate service provision costs and operate 54 % of European traffic.
- As consequence, 40 % of remaining gate-to-gate costs are borne by 32 other smaller ANSPs.
- Big divergences in the economic cost-effectiveness of the ANSPs. This approach is based on the Community method, especially the power of initiative of the European Commission (EC), the monitoring of compliance by Member States with the legislation in force and the involvement of a regulatory Committee made of representatives from Member States (known as Single Sky Committee) with its advisory and regulatory powers.