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European Commission


Brussels, 19 July 2012

What is the SES Performance Scheme?

The Single European Sky (SES) Performance Scheme aims at setting and implementing binding targets for Member States to deliver better air navigation services at lower costs. The incentives given through the Performance Scheme will lead to cheaper flights. Furthermore, the scheme ensures that capacity is increased. As a result, flights will be significantly less delayed, saving unnecessary costs for airlines and passengers. In addition, the environmental impact of air traffic will be reduced due to more efficient and shorter flight paths. Air travellers should benefit from a punctual, greener and more cost-efficient mode of transport with a maintained or even enhanced level of safety.

Why do we need the SES Performance Scheme?

European skies and airports risk saturation. Without substantial investment to modernise Europe's air traffic management system, our skies and airports will be jam-packed.

Key Facts and Figures:

  • There are 1.4 billion passengers a year in 440 airports.

  • 26 000 flights a day crossing the European sky.

  • Each year there are 10 million flights; and that is growing by up to 5% per year.

  • 16.9 million flights are expected to cross European skies in 20 years' time – thus in 2030 as many flights will cross Europe as there are inhabitants of Beijing.

What is the overall goal of the SES Performance Scheme?

The overarching goal of the SES Performance Scheme is the modernisation of Europe's air traffic management (ATM) system. A system with still operates with basic technologies from the 1950s.

Modernisation aims to overcome a fragmented patchwork of 27 national airspaces:

  • Tripling the airspace capacity

  • Improving safety tenfold

  • Reducing environmental impact by 10%,

  • Reducing air traffic management costs by 50%

What are the goals for the period 2012-2014?

The SES Performance Scheme covers four performance areas: costs efficiency, safety, capacity and environmental impact. For the period 2012-2014 European Union-wide targets have been set for all except safety. These targets are:

  • An average unit rate (the price charged to airlines) of €53.92 by 2014

  • An average delay per flight of 0.5 minutes by 2014

  • A 0.75% reduction of the average horizontal flight extension the year 2009 baseline by 2014 (meaning making flights shorter).

Why are there no concrete safety targets for the period 2012-2014?

Regarding safety, the scheme aims to ensure that safety levels remain at least at the levels required by the EASA-defined rules and regulations which are monitored by the Commission assisted by the independent Performance Review Body. Dedicated safety performance indicators are being developed for implementation as from 2015 and are a major priority as the Performance Scheme moves forward.

What are the expected outcomes of the SES Performance Scheme for the period 2012-2014?

It has been estimated that during the three-year period 2012–14, airspace users will pay around EUR 19 billion on air navigation charges. Depending on the type of airline, air navigation charges represent between 6% and 10% of the airline’s operating costs. These are significant costs that are ultimately borne by passengers.

With the implementation of the SES Performance Scheme billions of Euros are expected to be saved:

  • Some 1 billion Euros saved through reduction of delays caused by air traffic control;

  • Reductions of user charges of some 2.4 billion Euros;

  • Reduction in the air navigation cost of an average flight from 800 Euros to 690 Euros by 2014. This puts Europe on track towards reaching the target of 400 Euros per flight;

  • Carbon-neutral growth of aviation as far as air navigation is concerned, thanks to airspace management coordinated by the Network Manager.

How are Member States involved?

Member States were required to set national targets for cost efficiency and capacity which are consistent with the adopted European Union-wide targets.

In June 2011 national plans were submitted to the Commission for assessment, in particular the Commission should assess the extent to which national targets collectively meet European Union-wide targets. The Commission recommended to Member States on 23 November 2011 to revise their targets and requested Member States to submit revised performance plans. These revised plans have been assessed by the Commission with the support of the independent Performance Review Body.

The Network Manager is responsible for delivering the environmental target to achieve a carbon-neutral growth of traffic.

The SES Performance Scheme covers all 27 EU Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland.

How did Member States contribute to 2012-2014 targets?

The contribution from different Member States to the targets varies substantially:

  • Spain and Portugal have made a major effort to achieve the pan-European cost-efficiency target.

  • Some Member States made relatively minor efforts, in particular with regard to cost-efficiency targets. These include the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Sweden. These Member States will be asked to make an even greater contribution in the period 2015-2019, and are urged to start the process of cost reduction now.

  • A number of Member States’ Plans risks to be insufficient with regard to the capacity target. These include France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Greece and Poland. These Member States should work with the Network Manager to reinforce their performance.

Why is the Commission approving performance plans and at the same time issuing recommendations to Member States?

Member States, either at national or functional airspace block level, presented in January 2012 revised performance plans. The Commission assessed the revised plans with the assistance of the independent Performance Review Body. The Commission observed that the revision process has brought improvements and that overall the national or functional airspace block targets are broadly consistent with the European Union-wide targets adopted in February 2011.

The Commission has identified in its recommendation to Member States appropriate actions to implement the performance plans and is making the link between the first reference period (2012-2014) and the future assessment of performance plans and targets for the second reference period (2015-2019). Given that the contribution from different Member States to the targets varied substantially, Member States who should have delivered more in the first reference period are expected to do so in the second reference period. In the second reference period Member States will also be expected to deliver in respect to a future safety target.

What are the next steps?

The period 2012-2014 is the starting point, but far more needs to be done by Member States in the future to address the key goal of Single European Sky which is to provide cost efficient, safe and sustainable air traffic management. Some Member States have made greater efforts than others to bring their plans into line with the EU targets. The Commission will take account of the overall effort made by these Member States when setting up future targets.

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