November 24, 2014
One thing after another as creation of Single European Sky seems even further off
It has long made sound economic sense to create a Single European Sky, and for the past ten years, that has been the aim of the European Commission. The whole of American airspace is managed by one air traffic provider, while in the EU there are 29. It is estimated that streamlining European air corridors will reduce costs for airlines by up to €3bn, and save air passengers a further €6bn. “Every year there’s a lot of effort put in, but I don’t see any signs we will have it in the next five years,” Air Baltic Chief Executive Martin Gauss said at the Capa World Aviation Summit on the 20th November.
There seem to be two hurdles which need to be overcome at present. Firstly the ongoing dispute between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar, and in particular the exclusion of Gibraltar’s airport in the Single European Sky debate as well as European law in general. According to the 2006 Cordoba Agreement, Spain agreed to stop seeking the exclusion of Gibraltar airport from EU aviation measures. “We cannot accept a return to the pre-2006 practice of suspending Gibraltar Airport from EU aviation measures,” said a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office.
However the other hurdle to overcome is the wide-scale loss of jobs that the creation of a Single European Sky would involve. With such job cuts comes redundancy payments, which for many makes this an uneconomically viable. “It can only be successful with mass destruction of jobs in Europe among air traffic controllers,” Aer Lingus’ airline’s chief executive Christoph Mueller told Reuters. “But the estimated cost of voluntary redundancy schemes is simply not affordable.”
“Every time we meet with the unions, they say enough is enough. From the airlines side, they say it’s never enough,” Margus Rahuoja, European Commission Director of Aviation and International Transport Affairs is quoted as saying.