The number of European flight delays fell in July, during the peak holiday season, new data released by Eurocontrol shows. 

Airlines have been bracing for another difficult summer after a combination of air traffic control strikes, staffing shortages, bad weather and structural issues in Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) system led to widespread delays and disruptions in 2018. 

The European ATM organization said total network traffic rose 0.9% year-over-year in July to 1.09 million flights in July, compared with the same month a year earlier, while year-to-date traffic was up 1.7% to 6.41 million. 

In July, delays on arrival for all causes fell 16.7% per flight to an average of 16 minutes and were down 3.9% to 12.4 minutes on average for the first seven months of the year. 

Total air traffic flow management delays per flight were also down 12.5% to 4.02 minutes in July and 7.7% to 2.27 minutes for the year to date. 

Airline group Airlines for Europe (A4E) has been calling for reform of the air traffic management system, as well as better measures to prepare for and mitigate the impact of strikes.

“The European Commission and the member states must implement the EU’s delayed seamless European airspace by allowing the recommendations from the recent Airspace Architecture Study to be fully realized,” A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said July 10. “This would result in more efficient routings, quicker journeys and lower costs–not to mention a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions.”

Helen Massy-Beresford,