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Brussels, 30 March 2009

The Commission welcomes today's political endorsement by the Council of the Single European Sky package

After the positive vote in the European Parliament last week, the Transport Ministers confirmed today the agreement reached on a far reaching aviation package. This package, which will be formally adopted by the Council in the weeks to come, strengthens the Single European Sky, makes the European Aviation Safety Agency responsible for all safety links of the aviation chain and boosts the implementation of new technologies. As a package, these measures will deliver safer, greener and more cost-efficient flights. Annual savings for the airlines is calculated around four billion euros. At the same time the ATM Master Plan will put the European manufacturing industry at the forefront of innovation in air traffic management technology, thus delivering a performing European infrastructure and giving manufacturers a competitive edge on global markets.

Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, Antonio Tajani, said: "Europe needs an air traffic management system that is able to cope with future growth of aviation. The travelling public expects high quality services. This package of measures will deliver safer, greener and more cost-efficient flights. Aircraft will be able to fly the shortest routes possible in line with growing environmental requirements. For the first time, the needs of the airspace users are put at the core of the system. The package could not have come at a more opportune moment, when the sector is in difficulty due to the present crisis. "

The first pillar of the package introduces several enhancements to the original SES legislation (see IP/01/1398), including binding performance targets for air navigation service providers, European network management functions to ensure convergence between national networks and a definitive date for Member States to improve performance, including through a process of enhanced cooperation and further integration of air navigation service providers, known as Functional Airspace Blocks.

The technological pillar focuses on introducing state-of-the-art technology. The SESAR programme brings together all aviation stakeholders to develop, validate and deploy a new generation, Europe-wide air traffic management system.

The safety pillar provides for increased responsibilities for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This would ensure precise, uniform and binding rules for airport operation, air traffic management and air navigation services, as well as sound oversight of their implementation by Member States. These new EASA competences provide the agency with a more comprehensive control on European aviation safety, and ensure that common safety rules are applied in all phases of flight, starting from the tarmac.

Finally, the airport capacity pillar tackles the shortage of runways and airport facilities, which currently threatens to become a major bottleneck. The initiative seeks to co-ordinate better airport slots issued to aircraft operators with air traffic management measures as well as the establishment of an airport capacity observatory to fully integrate airports in the aviation network.

The new package places environmental issues at the core of the Single European Sky and improved air traffic management aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. Prospective improvements are up to 10% per flight, which amounts to 16 million tons of CO2 savings per year and annual cost savings for airspace users of € 2.4 billion. This will put aviation in a position to deal with its integration in the European Emission Trading Scheme.
Given the central human factor in air navigation service provision, the European institutions have also adopted a statement to declare their willingness to work jointly to involve staff in to the implementation of the aviation package, to ensure high standards of competence all categories of personnel delivering safety and to boost confidence in incident reporting mechanisms.

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