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The single European sky takes off: A major change in air transport declares Loyola de Palacio

Loyola de Palacio, European Commission vice-president in charge of Transport and Energy, said she was very satisfied after the Transport Council reached an agreement on the Single Sky package during…

Loyola de Palacio, European Commission vice-president in charge of Transport and Energy, said she was very satisfied after the Transport Council reached an agreement on the Single Sky package during its meeting on 5 December 2002. We assist to a major change in air transport in Europe, which will benefit to passengers and airlines as it will give more possibilities of flights and will increase the safety she said. With the agreement achieved today, the European sky will not be anymore a patchwork of different systems but a genuine continuum in the benefit of all Europeans. She added. I hope now a quick definitive adoption in the coming months in order to fulfil the commitment of an implementation by the end of 2004. Meanwhile, the European commission will maintain its efforts to preserve and improve more the working conditions of the air traffic controllers, which work is crucial for a safe and efficient single sky she concluded .



This package of proposals on air traffic management designed to create a single European sky by 31 December 2004. It sets out the objectives of the single European sky and its operating principles, based on six main lines of action: joint management of airspace; establishment of national supervisory authorities; gradual integration of civilian and military management; institutional synergy between the EU and Eurocontrol; introduction of appropriate modern technology; and better coordination of human resources policy in the air traffic control sector. In order to speed up its creation, the agreement also covers three proposals concerning the first specific measures: provision of air navigation services, organisation and use of airspace and interoperability of equipment.



Europe enjoys a very high level of aviation safety. However, the constant increase in air traffic is putting pressure on safety, and this has consequences in terms of delays. The technical measures taken to improve the management of airspace in recent years have created additional capacity, but this is often rapidly outstripped by the growth in traffic. Europeans are now demanding a better quality of air transport service, especially in terms of punctuality given that it is no longer the exception that flights are over half an hour late.



Implementing the single sky will make it possible to prevent and manage crises more effectively, thanks to a better integration in air traffic management through better integration and harmonisation of procedures and technologies and better co-ordination between all stakeholders, including military ones. It is another guarantee for an improved safety.



The agreement achieved today covers a legislative package on air traffic management covering the regulatory, economic, safety, environmental, operational, technological and institutional aspects of aviation. It covers all uses of airspace, both civilian and military, and also involves air traffic control stakeholders, including industry and air traffic controllers.



The package comprises the following proposals:


  • a proposal for a framework regulation aimed at creating a single European sky by 31 December 2004 and setting out its objectives and operating principles;

  • three other proposals for specific regulations concerning the provision of air navigation services, the organisation and use of airspace and the interoperability of equipment.

    The proposed measures are based on the report by the High Level Group (consisting of civilian and military representatives of the Member States) on the Single European Sky, which was chaired by Loyola de Palacio.


These proposals are ultimately intended to set up a decision-making and regulatory framework more in line with the constraints of air traffic so as to make it possible to restructure the EU`s airspace on the basis of traffic instead of national frontiers. The new organisational structure proposed by the Commission should make it possible to increase aviation safety while addressing structural air traffic control problems.



The objectives of the proposals in a nutshell


  • To improve safety

  • To create decision-making mechanisms in line with present air traffic constraints:

  • synergy between Community regulation and technical expertise within Eurocontrol

  • taking the pan-European dimension into account;

  • integrating military operators;

  • platform for the rapid introduction of new technologies;

  • dialogue with the social partners.

    o To increase the efficiency of the system:

  • creation of a European upper airspace zone by merging the existing national regions;

  • uniform organisation of this area on the basis of the principle of flexible and efficient use, ultimately making it possible to do away with the system of airways;

  • provision in the upper airspace zone of air traffic control services subject to monopoly. Optimum air traffic control zones to be defined in terms of operational efficiency and not on the basis of national frontiers;

  • accelerated development and implementation of new technologies by strengthening the standardisation process and bringing it into line with Community principles;

  • opening of the provision of related services. In the cases involving the provision of air traffic services, the approval of the Member States concerned shall be required;

  • monitoring of charges paid by airlines and their consistency with the principles of non-discrimination, cost-relatedness, transparency and efficiency;

  • more efficient, transparent and equitable traffic flow management.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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