A6 Alliance Position: ECA report on the Single European Sky

European Court of Auditors (ECA) report on the Single European Sky

The A6 Alliance welcomes the European Court of Auditors’ report on the Single European Sky and the recognition of the culture change that has taken place across ANSPs in recent years. We fully acknowledge the important role of ANSPs in the aviation value chain. Our members work constantly to improve daily operations, ensuring the safety of millions of passengers whilst meeting ever-growing demand for air travel.

The A6 Alliance supports many of the specific measures recommended in the ECA report, notably:

  • Revision of the SES High-level goals: In setting revised goals, a clear distinction should be made between long-term, high level goals and specific targets which ANSPs are expected to meet in a particular timescale. ANSPs should not be directed how to achieve those performance targets and should be accountable only for delivering those aspects within their control; not extraneous factors such as traffic levels and weather conditions.
  • Exploring and facilitating alternative policy options to encourage defragmentation: FABs have played a role in encouraging cooperation between ANSPs. However, additional mechanisms for achieving performance improvements should be encouraged, while avoiding over-regulation. A6 Alliance members have already demonstrated the benefits such business-oriented collaborations can deliver, such as COOPANS and iTEC.
  • Separating NSAs and ANSPs: The A6 Alliance agrees that NSAs and ANSPs should be separate entities.
  • Reviewing and evolving key performance indicators: We support the principle that KPIs should capture overall gate-to-gate delay and that the environmental KPI should consider both vertical and horizontal aspects. Consideration of end-to-end delays must take into account all aspects of the aviation value chain, not just delays generated by ANSPs, and recognise that some aspects are outside ANSPs’ control.
  • Stable funding for R&D: Funding for future R&D should continue to build upon the successful SESAR programme. The two main functions of SESAR – coordination of R&D and coordination of deployment – will be required beyond their current lifetime. We support the recommendation to adapt the SESAR structures to address this.
  • Prioritisation of EU support to R&D solutions: The SESAR solution datasets and the CBAs contained in the ATM Master Plan should inform funding decisions. Whilst R&D should be focused and prioritised, it is essential that a broad spectrum of solutions is developed, covering all performance areas.

The A6 Alliance does not support the proposal for the EC to inspect the eligibility of costs and their allocation between terminal and en route charging zones (Recommendation 4). This is a national matter for national authorities.

Nor do we support the proposal that the EC should have enforcing powers to directly establish binding targets on ANSPs (Recommendation 5).  We believe strongly that targets should be set from the bottom-up, and not imposed top-down.

The A6 Alliance has set out a proposal for the EC’s consideration which includes EU-wide targets set within a range based on local traffic forecasts, involving NSAs; stronger provision for NSAs’ local planning processes, including customer consultation and transparency; the ability to review Performance Plans in the event of changing justifiable circumstances; and consideration of the impact of other stakeholder behaviours on network performance.