Increasing number of flight delays requires political action in the EU

Danish summer holidaymakers are going to pay the price for the lack of air traffic controllers in Central Europe. More than every third flight from CPH may be delayed. 

20.05.2019

There is congestion in European airspace, and there is a lack of air traffic controllers in Central Europe. This unfortunate cocktail means that the number of delayed flight departures and arrivals is increasing, and it will also affect Danish summer holidaymakers.

Overall, last year flight delays in Europe amounted to 19 million minutes – twice more than the previous year.  Unfortunately things do not look much better this year.  That is why Naviair, which is responsible for air traffic control in Danish airspace and Copenhagen Airport, is calling for political action in the EU.

Calls for political action
“There is a need for a targeted action in the EU so that the countries that cause the delays get an incentive to invest - for example, in the training of new air traffic controllers,” says CEO of Naviair, Carsten Fich.

The election for the European Parliament is just around the Corner. Naviair and Copenhagen Airport are calling for a broad Danish European parliamentary effort, preferably with the continued support of the Danish government and Parliament.

“There should be focus on the issue and pressure for a common European solution. A solution that provides incentives to ensure adequate capacity in European airspace so that Danish and European travellers can go on holidays and business trips with no delays,” says Carsten Fich.

Delays are not only a major inconvenience for travellers. Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airport stresses that they also have an unnecessary impact on the climate and result in major financial losses for the aviation industry.

“We need political action, and we need it now to prevent travellers, the environment and the industry from having to pay the price for the delays caused by the bustle in Central Europe,” says Thomas Woldbye.

Strikes and staff shortages
Two-thirds of the delays occur as a direct consequence of the lack of air traffic controllers  and capacity in the busiest areas in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The final third is mainly caused by weather and, for example, strikes -particularly by French air traffic controllers.

“The airlines, the airports and Naviair do their utmost to make up for the time aircrafts lose in the airspace over Central Europe. But the delays have a domino effect for us here in Denmark," says Naviair's Carsten Fich.

Copenhagen Airports CEO, Thomas Woldbye, adds:

“On one hand, many aircraft arrive late.  On the other hand, it is hard to get away again, because the southward airways are overcrowded. This means that many aircraft has to wait for permission to take off. The congestion over Central Europe also means that aircrafts which are ready for punctual departure are not allowed to take off, because there is no space on their flight routes down through Central Europe,” explains Thomas Woldbye. 

Fact Box – the situation in summer 2018 (June, July and August)

  • On average, between 40 and 50 percent of all passenger flights out of CPH were affected by delays in European airspace
  • On certain days, more than 60 percent of all passenger flights were impacted by delays in European airspace
  • On average the delays lasted about 40 minutes