European air navigation service providers (ANSPs) safely handled a record 10.6 million flights in 2017 despite worsening delays, according to the latest annual report from the Eurocontrol Performance Review Commission (PRC).
Flight activity increased in Europe for the fourth consecutive year, but the PRC noted only a single air traffic management (ATM)-related accident in 2017, and no accidents with an indirect ATM contribution.
However, en route air traffic flow management (ATFM) delays deteriorated from 4.8% of all flights in 2016 to 5.3% in 2017. Affected flights were delayed on average by 16.5 minutes, with the main causes being severe weather, airspace capacity constraints, and ANSP staffing issues.
In recent years, ANSP costs have been held in check by Single European Sky legislation, while unit charges have fallen steadily as traffic rises. However, gains in cost-effectiveness are outweighed by longer ATFM delays – the most recent Eurocontrol ATM Cost-Effectiveness (ACE) benchmarking report described a 3.2% increase in unit economic costs in 2016, breaking a trend of four years of consecutive decreases.
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