ATC Pre-departure Delay


Contact organisation EUROCONTROL: The European organisation for the safety of air navigation
Contact organisation unit Directorate European Civil-Military Aviation - Performance Review Unit (DECMA/PRU)
Contact name Performance Review Unit - EUROCONTROL
Contact mail address 96 Rue de la Fusée
1130 Brussels
Contact e-mail address [email protected]

Metadata update

Metadata last certified not applicable
Metadata last update 15 July 2021

Statistical presentation

Data description

The ATC pre-departure delay is the additional time that the aircraft is held at the stand to avoid queuing at the departure runway. It is a proxy of the delay which an aircraft ready to leave its gate can be subject to, at its origin airport, due to airports constraints, demand/capacity imbalances known prior to off-blocks, take-off restrictions and/or traffic intensity at the time of operations. It is however to be acknowledged that this indicator does not aim at filtering out push-back delays when these are generated by an apron management unit which is not under the control of the ANS provider.

The ATC pre-departure delay is a performance indicator which will be collected for performance monitoring only, at national level with a breakdown at airport level.

This performance indicator is further defined as follows:

  • “(i) the indicator is the average ATC pre-departure delay per outbound IFR flight;
  • (ii) the indicator includes all IFR flights taking-off at the departure airport and covers delays in start up due to air traffic control constraints when the aircraft is ready to leave the departure stand;
  • (iii) the indicator is calculated for the whole calendar year and for each year of the reference period.”

The causes for ATC pre-departure delay means the standard IATA delay codes as defined in Section F of the Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA) Digest Annual 2011 ‘Delays to Air Transport in Europe’, with the duration of the delay. These delay causes relate to IATA delay Code 89 that aims at capturing off-block delays due to local ATC and push-back when the aircraft is ready to leave its stand. More specifically, these codes aim at reporting restrictions at airport of departure, including Air Traffic Services, start-up and pushback, airport and/or runway closed due to obstruction or weather, industrial action, staff shortage, political unrest, noise abatement, night curfew, special flights.

Where several causes may be attributable to flight delays, a list of those causes shall be provided.

Classification system

ATC pre-departure delay is classified per Member State, with a breakdown for each airport.

Sector coverage

The measures pertain to the Air Transport and Air Traffic Management Sector of the economy.

Statistical concepts and definitions

The ATC pre-departure delay is defined as the duration (in minutes) of delay as reported under IATA Code 89.

Statistical unit

The statistical unit is the airport. Airport level data is also aggregated to States.

Statistical population

The statistical population is the set of ‘SES airports’ included in the SES performance scheme.

Reference area

  • The first reference period (RP1) covers the calendar years 2012 to 2014 inclusive.
  • The second reference period (RP2) covers the calendar years 2015 to 2019 inclusive.
  • The third reference period (RP3) covers the calendar years 2020 to 2024 inclusive.

Unless decided otherwise, the following reference periods shall be of five calendar years.

Time coverage

2015 is the first year for which data is presented.

Base period

Not applicable.

Unit of Measure

The ATC pre-departure delay is measured in minutes per outbound IFR flight [min/departure].

Reference period

  • The first reference period (RP1) covers the calendar years 2012 to 2014 inclusive.
  • The second reference period (RP2) covers the calendar years 2015 to 2019 inclusive.
  • The third reference period (RP3) covers the calendar years 2020 to 2024 inclusive.

Unless decided otherwise, the following reference periods shall be of five calendar years.


The information is disseminated in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Release policy

Release calendar

ATC pre-departure delay data is released monthly with yearly aggregates.

Release calendar access

Not applicable.

User access

Information is disseminated to the general public via the SES Data Portal.

Frequency of dissemination

Data is published monthly with the annual performance aggregate being available in March of the following year.

Dissemination format

Information is disseminated to the general public via the SES Data Portal.

Accessibility of documentation

Documentation on methodology

As per the pertaining regulations (see Institutional Mandate).
For technical questions not addressed in Statistical processing please contact: [email protected].
Additional definitions of the terms used in the frame of the this KPI are available in the Metadata page.

Quality documentation

There is no specific documentation on procedures applied for quality management and quality assessment.

Quality Management

As per SES legislation,

The data providers shall take the necessary measures to ensure the quality, validation and timely transmission of the data, including providing evidence of their quality checks and validation processes, explanations in response to specific requests from the Commission regarding the quality of the data and, where necessary, action plans to improve data quality. The data shall be provided free of charge, in electronic form where applicable, using the format specified by the Commission.

The limitation of taxonomy and usage of IATA Code 89 has been acknowledged since many years. As an example, it is currently impossible to detect late push-back approval issued by an apron management body if it is not under ANS provider’s responsibility.

The use of IATA delay sub-codes significantly improves the reporting accuracy. IATA delay sub-codes were introduced in the AHM731 (Airport Handling Manual) in 2011 and cater for more detailed reporting of ATC and reactionary delays. These sub-codes are already in use at some airports such as Dusseldorf and London Luton.

Data accuracy varies considerably across airports and airlines depending on the procedures which are in place to control the quality of Code 89 allocation. Both airports and airlines are encouraged to set up a clear process for appropriate allocation of Code 89 delay causes.

Although data providers are responsible for data quality, the EUROCONTROL Performance Review Unit performs data validation and quality checks.

Quality assurance

Data validation is performed by the Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA), on behalf of PRU, on each data delivery by airports and airlines, and data validation report are returned to the data providers.

Quality assessment

Raw data is cross-checked with various sources (CODA, ANSP’s, airport operators, airport coordinators and air carriers). A threshold is established for data coverage, and data that does not pass the quality threshold is rejected.


The information is published for performance monitoring purposes in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Accuracy and reliability

Overall accuracy

The accuracy of the measure is influenced by the availability and the reliability of both the duration and the IATA codes as reported by local bodies.

Sampling error

There is no sampling and therefore no sampling error.

Timeliness and punctuality


The information is published each month - in general around 30 days after the end of the month in question.


The internal databases are updated daily. The statistical processing is performed once per month.


Comparability — geographical

The data is collected centrally by the EUROCONTROL Performance Review Unit (PRU) with delegation to the Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA), and computed consistently for all the SES airports. The interpretation of the measure and comparisons across airports require due consideration of prevailing local circumstances (airport infrastructure, etc.).

Comparability over time

Comparisons over time are valid.


Coherence — cross domain

Checks have been carried out with a number of airports and there is generally a good level of coherence between the indicator results and the results from performance measurement systems of airport operators.

Coherence — internal

Data is fully coherent from an internal perspective.

Cost and burden

Not available.

Data revision

Subject to changes (i.e. review of IATA codes by the European Airport Punctuality Network Group, EAPN), there might be a need to review ATC pre-departure delay accordingly.

Statistical processing

Source data

The data is collected centrally for all airports subject to SES legislation.

The input variables used for the calculation are detailed in the Statistical concepts and definitions section.

Frequency of data collection

The data is collected and transmitted for statistical processing on a monthly basis.

Data collection

The data is collected by the EUROCONTROL Performance Review Unit (PRU) and the Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA).

Data validation

The data is validation as described in the Quality Management section.

Data compilation

ATC pre-departure delay is reported as provided by local bodies. There is no specific compilation.


Corrections may be made when issues are discovered as described in the Quality Assessment section of this document.


No comments.


This data is published by the Performance Review Body (PRB) of the Single European Sky. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information and analysis contained on this website are as accurate and complete as possible. Despite these precautions, should you find any errors or inconsistencies we would be grateful if you could please bring them to the Performance Review Unit’s attention.

The information may be copied in whole or in part providing that the copyright notice and disclaimer are included. The information may not be modified without prior written permission from the PRB. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views or policy of EUROCONTROL or of the European Commission, which make no warranty, either implied or express, for the information contained on this website, neither do they assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of this information. The PRB reserves the right to change or amend the information provided at any time and without prior notice.