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

ACE benchmarking report 2024 - Promo

Performance Review Commission issues its latest ATM Cost-Effectiveness Benchmarking Report

PRC Performance Insight 9 - promo

EUROCONTROL's PRC publishes Performance Insight #9

PRR 2023 - promo

EUROCONTROL’s Performance Review Commission publishes its report on European Air Traffic Management performance in 2023

Talking to Pierre Depireux


EUROCONTROL releases new High-level Summary Report on Preliminary ACE Data

ETNA tool

EUROCONTROL’s Central Route Charges Office moves forward to deliver an even better service and stakeholder experience