Airlines for Europe (A4E) has rebuked the European Union (EU) for extending the maximum threshold for Europe's air navigation service providers (ANSP) from 0.5 minutes to 0.9 minutes per flight, the weakest performance targets ever.

With the new targets in place for the next two years, a minimum of 9.9 million minutes of delays per year will be acceptable versus 5.5 million minutes.

Airlines experienced a record 19 million minutes of delays in 2018, 105% higher than in 2017.

“New targets will lead to increased delays and more CO2 emissions, despite record delays and industry calls for urgent EU airspace reform,” A4E said in a statement.

"These targets will reward poorly performing ANSPs whilst frustrating those who are already delivering,” A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said.

"Combined with insufficient staffing levels and current underspending by ANSPs on future investments to improve their performance, the new targets are extremely disappointing and simply bad news for passengers.”

A European Commission report comparing air traffic management statistics in Europe with US numbers found that in 2017, despite the US controlling nearly 50% more flights, "the total number of flights with a reportable delay was 387,000 in Europe versus 258,000 in the US. This means that 50% more flights are delayed in Europe than in the US.”

A4E is calling on key stakeholders involved in the target setting process to ANSPs to deliver consistent improvements or face financial penalties.

Kurt Hofmann