European version of NextGen effort launched amid challenges

An excellent overview, courtesy of Euractiv, of the political and bureaucratic challenges facing SESAR — the European version of NextGen. EU transport ministers approved the project’s development phase this week, but some stakeholders feel that things are moving too slowly. Gilles Savary, a French Socialist MEP who is also vice president of the European Parliament’s transport committee, was one critical voice:

[Savary highlighted concerns] that the Commission had failed to move away from its “bottom-up” approach, whereby it is left to member states to decide on how to restructure.

“The European Parliament considers that the ‘bottom-up’ approach has not worked and […] questions the legitimacy of a second package based on this same base,” said Savary.

According to him, sensitive issues such as sovereignty, the evaluation of progress on FABs [portions of upper airspace that may be controlled by a ‘foreign’ ATC provider] and the introduction of penalties mean that the dossier “will lead to in-depth debate” and may not be agreed in first reading.

But airlines and airports are pleading with the EU to move the dossier forward as soon as possible. The current situation represents a “Europe-wide problem with only losers,” stressed Peter Hartman, CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and current chairman of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

An AEA press release expanding on Hartman’s comments can be found here (PDF).


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