The European Union (EU) has called for greater cooperation and progress the Single European Sky (SES) framework to help reduce to flight delays, as the busy European summer vacation period highlights the disruption travelers regularly face.

EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc and European Parliament committee on transport & tourism chair Karima Delli issued a joint statement July 13 calling for an urgent upgrade to the system and saying that 2018 is expected to be the busiest year so far in terms of traffic, with 11 million flights.

“The summer holiday season is upon us, which is the busiest period for air travel. The bleak reality is that around 50,000 passengers will face delays—every day—of up to 2 hr. in airports across Europe, leading to missed connections and unforeseen costs,” they said. “Our current air traffic system is struggling to cope with the ever-increasing volume of traffic, and other disruptions which contribute to these delays.”

Plans put forward by the European Commission to reform the Single European Sky framework (known as Single European Sky 2+) that are currently on hold would contribute to more efficiency, shorter routes and lower operational and environmental costs, potentially generating €36 billion ($42 billion) of savings over the next 20 years, Bulc and Delli said.

They also called for a “more genuine” cooperation between national air navigation service providers, and said working with Eurocontrol to create a more effective management of the European network would improve efficiency and capacity, reducing delays and airport congestion.

“Yes, the EU economy and the aviation sector are growing again and that is great news. Planes are packed, and airports are humming with activity. We now need to ensure that this European success story continues,” they said. “We are therefore calling on the EU member states and stakeholders to work with us to help build a modern and efficient air traffic infrastructure in Europe, allowing citizens to travel smoothly and for our economy to remain competitive. Only together can we bring about the changes that the system desperately needs.”

Helen Massy-Beresford/Aviation Week helen.massy-beresford@aviationweek.co.uk