The European Union has threatened legal action and fines against member states for failing to implement rules to fuse their national air traffic control systems into a “single European sky.”
The EU’s transport commissioner issued the warning after a majority of EU countries missed the Dec. 4 deadline to shrink 27 national airspace sectors into nine blocs.
“We will take every possible action to make the single European sky a reality,” said Slim Kallas.” At a time of economic crisis we cannot afford to live with the status quo.”
“A critical deadline has been missed. There is no option but to strongly enforce EU law,” Kallas said.
The current system, which divides EU airspace into 650 sections operated by 60 air traffic control systems and managed by national governments with minimal cross-border coordination, costs airlines an additional five billion euros ($6.5 billion) a year, according to the European Commission, the EU’s executive.
The U.S. controls the same amount of airspace and handles twice the amount of traffic as the EU at half the cost.
A single European airspace would triple capacity, halve air traffic costs, cut CO2 emissions by 10 percent and improve safety tenfold, the commission said.
European airlines also criticized member states for missing the deadline. “The current situation is scandalous,” the Association of European Airlines said in a joint statement with three other industry bodies.
“We are dismayed that lack of political will by member states has stalled any hoped-for progress. We therefore urge transport commissioner Kallas to follow up his warning ... and launch infringement procedures against defaulting states.”