The Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Willie Walsh, has previously expressed concerns over the ATC performance in both Europe and the US.
The performance of European Air Traffic Control (ATC) has recently come under critical scrutiny as it disrupts summer travel. Walsh highlighted key issues that airlines, airports, and travelers are currently grappling with due to the deficient performance of ATC across Europe, particularly in Germany and France.
A Challenging ATC Environment Across Europe
The European ATC landscape has proven itself as a significant hurdle for carriers. Despite the concerted efforts by airlines and airports to secure ample resources and minimize potential disruptions, the dearth of ATC resources at a national level hampers these efforts. An improvement in some areas of ATC performance since 2022 does offer a silver lining. However, it remains a concerning fact that overall performance is still significantly lagging behind the pre-COVID levels of 2019.
London Gatwick: A Case Study in ATC Resource Deficiencies
Of all the congested airports in Europe, London Gatwick stands as the epitome of the ATC crisis, IATA’s Walsh claims. Local ATC resource issues have exacerbated the overall performance of this airport.
“Gatwick is now the worst performing airport among the 31 major airports reported by Eurocontrol and sits at number 106 out of the 110 airports covered by the entire data set,” Walsh states.
A Call for Accountability and Action
Walsh raised concerns over the perceived lack of response from politicians, who have previously been critical of airlines’ performance.
It is disheartening that the politicians who were quick to criticize airlines last year, have remained silent about the disruption caused by government controlled or regulated ATC providers.Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
So, how can politicians contribute to improving the current European ATC performance? A key starting point, according to IATA’s Director General, is for these politicians to assume accountability for the economic and environmental ramifications of underperforming ATC services. Such a move would spur these decision-makers to make better, more informed choices.
The strategic ‘to-do’ list has already been laid out. Adequate staffing, modernization with the Single European Sky, and the establishment of methods to ensure the continuity of vital ATC services during periods of industrial action, all while maintaining respect for workers’ rights.
This approach, coupled with well-planned strategies and resource optimization, can potentially revitalize the European ATC landscape and ensure a smoother journey for travelers.
Walsh’s statement indicates a current state of concern over the performance of European ATC, with calls for improved decision-making, accountability, and strategic actions from politicians. The situation will continue to develop as stakeholders respond to these suggestions and the broader issues impacting ATC performance in Europe.
With a hopeful eye on the future, stakeholders, travelers, and industry experts will watch closely to see how the situation unfolds and what steps will be taken to rectify this pressing issue.