2018 was characterised by:
- Disruptions due to strikes went up, disruptions due to convective weather increased, delays due to lack of staffing significantly higher within a context of a 3.8% average traffic increase is the answer;
- Mitigation measures were introduced to limit the delays and Network Manager actions led to an added value to the network of more than 12% in terms of delay reductions but remedial actions to increase capacities are not readily available in the short term. If they were, the political pressure and the costs of these delays on the flying passengers would make it happen;
- The European system needs a game changer if it is to manage safely the traffic levels seen in 2018 which were higher than the previous record 2008 levels. Some ANSPs have delivered more capacity but we need to create more capacity across the network in a more coordinated manner.
The main lesson learned out of the operational performance of the network in 2018 is that it needs a commonly supported network-wide operational concept and a buy-in towards a network centric approach. Multilateral cooperation is needed to overcome operational deficiencies in one part of the network but which impact a much larger airspace. Converging ATM technical developments are necessary for these evolutions to have a positive impact across the network.
Cross-border free route airspace is a typical network wide operational concept which despite weather and geopolitical disruptions, is giving results in line with the SES performance targets.
2018 has been the siren call for this network-centric approach. It has also seen the Network Manager start the changes necessary to prepare itself for the future. A new architecture for the NM technical system has been developed. A related Long Term Investment Programme elaborated. The joint SJU/NM Airspace Architecture study addressing short/medium and longer term proposals completed. An updated Network Functions Regulation finalised.
The nomination of EUROCONTROL as Network Manager for period 2020-2029 confirmed.