Stats issued by Eurocontrol show ATC capacity and staff shortages resulted in a 50% increase in delated flights in October alone compared to last year.
Full year stats, Eurocontrol estimates, are likely to show total delay minutes up 53% against last year from 9.3 million in 2017 to 14.3 million in 2018.
This year to date, A4E member airlines have been forced to cancel more than 5,000 flights due to ATC strikes, affecting around 800,000 passengers. It says millions more passengers flying with A4E member airlines had suffered delays resulting from ATC staff shortages, airspace diversions and residual backlogs.
A4E is calling for urgent EU and national government action to reform European air traffic management systems ahead of a summit of European transport ministers on Monday (December 3).
According to PwC research, European ATC strikes 2010-2017 is estimated to have cost EU economies €13.4 billion.
The European Commission, meanwhile, has recorded since 2005 some 357 ATC strikes, 254 in France.
Thomas Reynaert, A4E managing director, said Europe’s transport ministers had a “unique opportunity” to take “decisive action” and resolve the “political bottlenecks” contributing to the delays.
“The current crisis has to be addressed,” said Reynaert. “The EU must act now to tackle the long-term damage that is being done to Europe’s economies and to the reputation of our airline industry.”
Reynaert said A4E’s ambition was to see a “seamless European sky” - a system which would integrate national airspaces across the continent while affording EU member states sovereignty of their airspace.