In your report “Air traffic chief warns of worsening European flight delays” (FT.com, April 7), Jeff Poole, director-general of Canso, claims that “European airlines’ unwillingness to invest sufficiently in air traffic control has led to record flight delays that will get worse this summer”.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Blaming EU airlines for the completely unacceptable congestion we see in our skies is absurd and insulting to our passengers.
2018 was one of the worst years on record for air traffic control delays and flight cancellations in almost a decade. Airlines for Europe (A4E) airlines cancelled more than 5,000 flights due to ATC strikes alone — with passengers suffering 19m minutes of delay (up 105 per cent from 2017) caused by additional ATC issues such as staff shortages, airspace diversions and residual backups.
Despite these shocking statistics, last week EU member states approved the weakest targets ever for air traffic controllers’ performance. These new, utterly unambitious targets will allow for even further delays, longer flight times and increased CO2 emissions over the next two years. A4E member airlines pay about €7bn a year for air navigation services. Like any paying customer, we expect a good service in return — as do our passengers.
Airlines for Europe (A4E),
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