Eurocontrol, ANSPs Meet To Assess COVID-19 Crisis

Eurocontrol director general Eamonn Brennan (on the left).
Credit: Eurocontrol

Eurocontrol and chief executives of European air navigation service providers (ANSPs) met virtually to discuss options for the deepening financial crisis caused by a “huge and ongoing decrease” in flight activity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants announced Sept. 24.

Eurocontrol, which serves as Europe’s air traffic control network manager, collects route charges from aircraft operators on behalf of its member states, which are returned to the states to fund ANSPs. 

The agency in April extended its billing deadlines into 2021 to provide airlines with relief during the pandemic. Eurocontrol then received authority to borrow €1.27 billion ($1.5 billion) to reimburse ANSPs 51% of their operating costs for four months. As of its latest announcement, Eurocontrol said the region’s airlines, airports and ANSPs are facing €140 billion in lost revenue in 2020.

Brennan tweet
Tweet from Eamonn Brennan's twitter account.

On Sept. 24, Eurocontrol director general Eamonn Brennan tweeted a graphic showing that flights by legacy carriers were down 64% compared to the equivalent period in 2019, based on a seven-day moving average. Flights by LCCs were down 60% and non-scheduled carriers were down 44%. Flights by all-cargo carriers ticked up by 2%.

Brennan met with members of the European CEO committee of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), which represents ANSPs globally, to assess options for managing the crisis.

“COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on all parts of the aviation industry and ANSPs have also been hit,” Brennan said. “With an expected loss of six million flights this year alone across Europe, and no good expectation of recovery yet, our shared challenge is to see how we can be ready for the recovery when it happens even though financing for high-priority projects is increasingly tight.”

The meeting also addressed how ANSPs can best support the Single European Sky 2+ program with the aim of ensuring that they are in a position to manage the recovery and future air traffic demand when the pandemic ends.

“CANSO is very pleased to have had today’s opportunity to exchange views with Eamonn on our common challenge,” CEO of air navigation services in Finland Raine Luojus said. “Our members have maintained their services throughout these difficult times and must now plan for how they can provide the required capacity to our customers, the airspace users, in the years ahead.”

Bill Carey

Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.