Tomorrow the European Transport Ministers will meet in Rome during a conference organized by the Italian EU Presidency and the EU Commission on the Single European Sky (SES) project. The Italian Presidency has rightly described SES as an innovative network for growth, integration and competitiveness. The Conference takes place exactly ten years after the SES initiative was born. But there are not many reasons to celebrate this anniversary as little progress has been made. Instead of action and even a re-launch (SESII+), the EU Member States have entered into endless discussions without any results. Europe’s most important environment and transport project remains as elusive as ever.
The Single European Sky is a crucial missing link in Europe’s infrastructure and the most important step to reduce aircraft emissions. At present airlines cannot use their innovative 21st century technology to its full potential, because operations are constrained within a 20th century infrastructure framework resulting in huge operational burdens.. Furthermore, passengers and airlines suffer because of chronic delays, endemic throughout the system, amounting to 11 million minutes of flight delay every year, which generate5 billion Euros a year in unnecessary costs.
Implementation of the Single European Sky could save an estimated 8 million t of CO2 in unnecessary fuel burn.
“As in the saying ‘All roads lead to Rome’ we hope that in the near future European airlines will be able to operate in a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly and de-fragmented airspace, breaking down the existing barriers in the sky”, says AEA’s CEO Athar Husain Khan. “This requires national governments to abandon their national agendas and to defend the common interests of the Single European Sky project for the benefit of the economy, consumers and the environment. The SES II+ package has the potential to do for the European skies what Schengen did for freedom of movement and goods. Member States therefore need to take the appropriate actions to implement SES.”
AEA and some of its member airline CEOs will attend the High Level Conference of Transport Ministers where they will highlight the undeniable benefits that SES could bring for economic growth, technological innovation, regional integration and industrial competitiveness.