EUROCONTROL's PRC publishes Performance Insight #6: 20 years of performance-oriented approach for ATM in Europe

Polygon illustration of an airplane in flight

EUROCONTROL’s Performance Review Commission (PRC) has published its sixth release of Performance Insight, taking a closer look as to whether a performance-oriented approach for ATM in Europe presents a success story.

At the beginning of this century, the ATM system in Europe began to move to a more performance-orientated approach. This began with a ‘light-touch’ approach established by EUROCONTROL and the Performance Review Commission and then formed the core of the EU Single European Performance Scheme.

Traffic has grown substantially over the period to 2019, particularly in Eastern Europe, with traffic dispersed across many more airport pairs and away from congested hub airports. The low cost sector, in particular, has rapidly increased in significance. The ATM system remains fragmented despite the formation of Functional Airspace Blocks and there has been limited consolidation of ACCs. The number of controllers has grown, albeit not as fast as traffic and unit costs have decreased significantly.

Free Route Airspace has now been fully or partly implemented in most parts of Europe, with substantial operational and economic benefits. Also, the network function has been strengthened with the creation of a Network Manager, taking a more proactive role in ATFM; the benefits of a centrally managed network were clearly visible during the capacity crisis in 2018/19 – and also during the pandemic.

However, overall ATM performance improvements have been below anticipated levels with European targets almost never achieved – partly due to shortcomings in a limited number of air navigation service providers.

“Delays in 2018 and 2019 were very high, in part as a result of a lack of staffing and lower than planned capital expenditure. These delays are very expensive for airspace users and can quickly erase cost efficiency improvements. This underlines the importance of finding a balanced approach in performance management, one that considers all key performance areas equally, instead of focusing on one area.”


Marinus de Jong Chairman of the PRC, EUROCONTROL

Read and download the full analysis.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

Latest highlights

Air traffic controllers overlooking aircraft

EUROCONTROL PRC report on 2022 European ANS performance ready for consultation

Bhev Chandrasena

Crisis funding: EUROCONTROL and Member States agree new ways to support the ATM network during volatile times

Map of Europe overlaid with airplane icons that indicate the aviation traffic situation

Latest tranche of big aviation data available for research

EUROCONTROL Stakeholder Forum on a common unit rate for air navigation charges

Performance Insight #7 - banner

EUROCONTROL's PRC publishes Performance Insight #7


High-level Summary Report on Preliminary ACE Data (December 2022 edition)