Tuesday 20 August 2019

Call for overhaul as 20pc of flights delayed

Delays: Eurocontrol is headed by Eamonn Brennan
Delays: Eurocontrol is headed by Eamonn Brennan
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Flight delays across Europe's airspace this summer are "simply unacceptable", according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

It has called for an overhaul of air traffic control work practices, and penalties for national air traffic control agencies that fail to deliver agreed capacity targets.

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IATA said that figures from Eurocontrol - the agency that manages the air network across Europe - showed more than 210,000 flights, or 20pc of the total, were delayed during June. The average delay was 17 minutes. Eurocontrol is headed by Eamonn Brennan, the former CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority.

"The vast majority of the delays are from a lack of air traffic control capacity, driven by inadequate staffing, inflexible rostering and an inability to react to disruptive events," IATA claimed.

Last year was the busiest ever for flights in Europe, but 26pc of all those flights were delayed. Delays soared 279pc between 2013 and 2018, while the number of flights jumped 14pc in the period.

In 2018, 15pc of flight delays in Europe were caused by disruptions including air traffic control strikes.

A further 25pc were due to weather, while capacity and air traffic control staff shortages caused 60pc of delays.

Eurocontrol has shifted some aircraft traffic flows in Europe for the summer in an effort to reduce delays.

But IATA claimed the initiative had failed. "The plan generated new problems as it redistributed 1,000 flights per day from the most problematic areas," the lobby group said.

"The re-routing of aircraft increases travel time for passengers and it forces airlines to circumnavigate saturated areas with longer, less efficient routes that produce unnecessary CO2 emissions," it added.

Last year, carbon emissions from flights in Europe rose by 5.2pc.

Irish Independent

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