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Brussels, 4 November 2008

New observatory to study airport capacity in Europe

The Community Observatory on Airport Capacity was officially inaugurated today. The Observatory’s task is to advise the Commission on the development of measures to improve the capacity of the European airport network. It will also play a vital part in implementing the Commission’s action plan on the capacity, effectiveness and safety of airports in Europe.

Closing the inaugural meeting, Antonio Tajani, Commission Vice-President responsible for transport policy, said ‘the Observatory will help us in our efforts to avoid any future shortage of airport capacity which might arise from the continuous growth in air transport, while complying with environmental standards’.

The idea to set up such an observatory was announced in the action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety in Europe, which was adopted by the Commission in January 2007[1]. The plan contains specific measures to maximise the effectiveness of existing airport infrastructure and to improve the planning of new infrastructure. It also provides for raising the safety and environmental compatibility standards of airport hubs to the highest levels.

The Observatory will serve as a forum for the exchange and monitoring of data and information on airport capacity and will operate as a pan-European observation centre. It will issue non-binding opinions, either at the Commission’s request or on its own initiative, which will serve as a basis for producing guidelines or regulatory instruments. The Commission will therefore be able to seek its opinion on methods for assessing airport capacity, infrastructure planning procedures, train/plane Intermodality and airport accessibility.

The composition of the Observatory will ensure that all stakeholders are represented and that it operates in an effective manner. All the Member States, Eurocontrol, the SESAR Joint Undertaking, academia and the Commission will be represented, as will airports, airlines, the local authorities concerned, airport coordinators, environmental groups and people living or working near airports.

The Observatory has been set up for a period of five years, at the end of which its provisional work programme should have been completed. That is also the time at which SESAR should be entering its operational phase, deploying new technologies to improve the operational capacity of airports.

For more information, see:

[1] COM(2006) 819 final of 24 January 2007. The Commission’s action plan has been endorsed by the European Parliament (Resolution of 11 October 2007) and by the Council (Conclusions of 2 October 2007).

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