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Brussels, 19 January 2011

Statement by Vice President Kallas on snow disruption across Europe

Statement further to the meeting with airports (ACI Board Members) following Christmas snow disruption, by Vice President Siim Kallas.

35 000 scheduled flights were cancelled this December due to severe weather conditions.

That's some 7 million passengers and more than the whole of the flight cancellations for 2009.

Volcanic ash is difficult for the aviation industry to predict. But we know that winter arrives every year and we should be ready for it.

There are 5 major areas where I believe that action needs to be taken:

- Clearly, contingency planning for snow at airports needs to be improved.

- We need to ensure better co-operation between all those involved - in the air and on the ground

- We need to ensure the proper functioning of the airline hubs

- We need to provide better and more timely information about delays and rerouting

- And to achieve all that, we need minimum service and quality requirements at airports for our passengers.

Those requirements need to be consistent across Europe. Every plane journey involves at least two airports. It's no good if my departure airport is clear but my destination is snowed under.

We take consistent European standards for granted when it comes to aviation safety – and rightly so. Now we need to do the same for severe weather planning.

Let me stress, that these measures should be devised and implemented by managers and experts within the aviation industry. Not by bureaucrats.

What we can do is strengthen the European regulatory framework, as and where it is needed.

I intend to do that in the Airports package which I will present later this year.

In the meantime we need to ensure that Christmas 2011 is not a repeat of Christmas 2010.

So I have asked the airports, to come back to me as soon as possible with a progress report on contingency planning for next winter.

We will keep you fully informed on that process.

See also IP/11/44. For full text of VP Kallas remarks at ACI see SPEECH/11/35.

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