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New ATFCM procedure jointly developed by the EUROCONTROL Network Manager and operational stakeholders reduces delays caused by bad weather of short duration

New ATFCM procedure reduces delays caused by bad weather

A new Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) procedure targeting delays caused by bad weather of short duration at the destination aerodrome has entered into force on the 8 March.

The procedure will help airlines minimise delays and related compensation caused by bad weather of short duration on so-called long-sector flights (ones with a flying time of longer than 3.5 hours within the Network Manager area). The procedure is the result of the close collaboration between the EUROCONTROL Network Manager and operational stakeholders within the SMART Weather Task Force of EUROCONTROL’s Operational Excellence Programme.

 “As the Network Manager we are happy to see that several large European hub airports such as London Heathrow and Frankfurt have already implemented the procedure and more ANSPs are in the process of doing so. Our goal is to get all operational stakeholders on board to collectively better manage adverse weather at airports by taking a coordinated, collaborative network view.”

Reducing ATFM delay on long-sector flights optimises aerodrome capacity and is extremely interesting for airlines, as it offers the possibility of reducing delays and related compensation payments as per EU regulation 261/2014 (whereby EU passengers are entitled to various compensations in case of a 2-hour delay at departure and in case of a 3-hour delay on arrival).

While bringing weather delays down to zero would be impossible, the enhanced ATFM weather practice does aim to bring more flights within the “acceptable” delay envelope as per the delay thresholds mentioned above. The most important issue for airlines is lowering those delays with the highest costs, rather than aiming for a net zero delay outcome.

Cost considerations for aircraft operators are greatest when it comes to long-sector flights, which are performed by larger aircraft types and carry more high-value connection passengers than, for instance, a regional jet operating at the same load factor. The fact that larger aircraft accrue ATFM delay for a weather delay event of short duration that does not impact them upon arrival is particularly unfavourable in terms of the number of affected passengers who could claim EU 261/2014 compensation due to missed connecting flight.

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