Cabin Not OK

IATA’s communications team has been busy recently.

First there was the fanfare to announce the new Cabin OK initiative at the IATA AGM. This consists of a new guideline for the size of carry-on bags.

A few days later IATA released a clarifying press release. The size specified is not a maximum limit. This is set individually by an airline and there are no plans for an industry standard. It is merely a guideline intended to give passengers reassurance that their baggage will be able to travel with them. In fact, it seems there is no actual guarantee that a passenger would be able to take Cabin OK-approved luggage on-board. Instead, IATA was merely promising that Cabin OK-approved luggage would have priority to remain in the cabin if an aircraft is not able to accommodate a bag for every passenger and if the flight is operated by a participating airline. That’s quite a few caveats and subsequently a rather underwhelming initiative.

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March 2015 Eurocontrol Traffic Report: Traffic growth flattens but LCCs continue to grow.

Total Traffic for Europe (average daily departures) continued the recovery which commenced in April 2013, but the rate of growth has fallen back.

March 2015 traffic was 1.4% higher than March 2014 and the twelve months rolling traffic trend was also 1.4%. This is a reduction on the twelve months rolling traffic trend of 1.8% that was reached in December 2014.


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Now its good taste that is being mangled

Not content to mangle both words and figures, we did not have to wait long to see what else would be in the US legacy carriers’ crosshairs.  Good taste.  Manners are for wimps, apparently.  Complaining about the alleged subsidies the Gulf carriers receive, America’s legacy airlines are on a media offensive.  It is clearly not a charm offensive.  It is offensive and it is in the media, so let’s stick to calling it a media offensive.  The airlines’ CEOs have fanned out and are talking to anyone that will listen.

Speaking on CNN the Delta CEO, Richard Anderson, brushed aside the counter-claim that America’s Chapter 11 legislation was an unfair advantage by saying that they would not have needed to use if but for the 9/11 attacks, and they came from Arabia, and the UAE has the word Arab in it, and gosh, the other nasty airline is from the Arabian Gulf, and thus, it was only fair.  I can only hope that Mr Anderson’s mother did not see the interview, because it is hard to believe that she would have brought her son up to behave like that.

It is almost impossible to know where to start on this.  First, none of the 9/11 terrorists came from the UAE, or Qatar.  Etihad was not formed until after 9/11.  The airlines of America were plundering the get-out-of-jail card that is Chapter 11 long before 9/11 and there is a chance, just a chance that this sort of xenophobia is not really edifying.

This would be the same Richard Anderson, by the way, that trousered US$60 million in grants and subsidies from governments, and in particular the State of Pennsylvania when he purchased an oil refinery in 2012.  That was different, obviously.  It was good old fashioned right thinking American money, and thus can never be defined as subsidy.

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Airlines not afraid to mangle numbers as well as words…

Away we go again. The US carriers, not content to mangle the language by calling for less competition in the name of more competition also want to mangle the numbers. They are claiming, in a puff piece of terrible, unthinking reporting, that their market share is down by 5%. Interestingly, the science and economics says that it is 1%, oh, and by the way, the fares are down too, which is good for the economy, not bad.

The academic study is here:

The conclusions, on page 21, are worth repeating in full:

The empirical results suggest that these effects are small but statistically significant; that is a 1% growth in total Gulf carrier traffic to or from the U.S. is associated with a less than 0.1% drop in U.S. carriers’ international passenger traffic and a less than 0.1% decrease in air fares. From a consumer perspective, the latter is, of course, a desirable outcome of increased competition in international aviation markets. U.S. carriers, however, are likely worse off following Gulf carrier entry.

The bigger error here is to say that market share is down, without noting that the actual market size is up. Add in all the passengers that cannot fly on US carriers to various parts of India, Asia and Africa and you can see that the market is improving.

There is one truth that cannot be denied – if passengers are opting to travel two-thirds of the way around the globe instead of over the Pacific using US carriers, that says more about the airlines than it does about the passengers.

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When Airlines call for more competition they actually mean less competition…

Aviation never says what it means – the freedoms of the air are actually the restrictions of the air; the one thing that is not actually shared in a code share is the code; open skies treaties stop airlines flying certain routes. The list goes on and on, but we must now add a new example to the list: the US legacy carriers want the open sky agreement with the Gulf to be rescinded, ‘to ensure competition is preserved and enhanced.’

If you don’t me believe me, read it here:

You could not make this stuff up. Kitchen too hot?

Partially, the issue is that any competitor wants the opposition to be weakened, that is natural. But the real problem here is that by preserving the ridiculous Chicago System, airlines that cannot stand the heat of evolution have a lever they can demand be pulled.

If you changed the rules of football, any code, it is not important, to say that goals kicked by my team were worth 12 points, but goals kicked by opposing teams were only worth 1 we could happily rewrite most of the world’s championships. But we would look silly.

A bit like the US legacy carriers.

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December 2014 Eurocontrol Network Operations Traffic Report

Eurocontrol Network Operations reports for November and December show that Total Traffic for Europe (average daily departures) is continuing the recovery which commenced in April 2013.

December 2014 traffic was 1.6% higher than December 2013.

Traffic for all of 2014 was 1.8% higher than 2013.but remained 1.8% below the level of 2011.


The airlines providing most of the increase of 340 daily flights for December were

  • Low Cost Carriers (Ryanair, Easyjet, Aegean, Vueling, Pegasus and Wizz added a total of 338 flights);
  • Turkish Airlines which maintained its growth with 75 additional flights; and
  • The Middle East carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar) who added a total of 54 flights

In contrast there was a large reduction in flights by Lufthansa (223 flights) due to industrial action and the transfer of certain fights to German Wings which recorded an increase of 148 daily flights.

There were also reductions by Air France, Swiss International, Norwegian Air Shuttle, HOP, and Ukraine International which contributed a combined decrease of 97 average daily flights.

Ryanair has increased its share of total departures from 4.9% to 5.3%.



The airports receiving the largest traffic increases in the number of average daily departures in December 2014 were, Istanbul/Ataturk, Istanbul/Sabiha Gokcen, Athens, London/City Madrid, London/Stansted, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Warsaw/Chopin airports.

The traffic increased significantly at London/City mainly because of Flybe started to operate there.

The largest decreases in the number of average daily departures were at Frankfurt/Main, Milano/Malpensa, Wien, Oslo/Gerdermoen, Praha/Ruzyne and Lyon/St Exupery.

Istanbul/Ataturk has now consolidated its position as the third busiest airport after London/LHR and Paris/CDG.



The virtual suspension in overflight traffic over Ukraine caused routings of flows between North-West Europe and Middle-East/South-East Asia and the following changes in overflights: Hungary (+16%), Romania (+25%), Bulgaria (+48%), Turkey (+24%), Moldova (-66%) and Armenia (-29%).

Closure of Libyan airspace since July has resulted in a 35% fall in overflights for Malta. and a 16% increase for Greece as due to rerouting of flows between North-West Europe and Southern Africa/Eastern Africa.


ATFM Delay

 Total ATFM delays in December 2014 decreased by 33.1% compared to December 2013.providing a decrease in the 12-month rolling trend of ATFM delay for the first time since June 2014.

The initial estimate for 2014 End of the Year average en-route ATFM delay per flight in the NM area is 0.61 min/flt, and the monthly average Airport Delay is shown as 0.4min/flt.

This adds to a Total ATFM Delay of 1.01 min/flt which would be a 12% increase over 2013.

The number of flights per day with an ATFM delay of at least 15 minutes is shown as 432 in 2014compared to 346 in 2013, an increase of 25%.

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New European Commissioners – New Commitments

The new European Commissioners revealed their objectives and commitments during the scrutiny hearings held in the European Parliament shortly before their formal appointment.  A concise overview of their plans and interests is emphasised in this article with a highlight on transport related topics.

All the newcomers have pledged for transparency in their mandate and enhanced liaisons with all the other European Institutions.  Intensive collaboration between the EC and the Member States is foreseen with an emphasis on the fact that a more rigorous applicability of the rules and better law making are expected.  The EC “must be ready to launch infringement proceedings and move more quickly to a referral to the Court if a Member State continues to fail to comply with EU law”, as the First Vice-President, Frans Timmermansand the Vice-President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini have explained.   It will be interesting to see how that runs with the actions foreshadowed between the EC and the States over what is claimed to be incomplete compliance with the FAB obligations.

Juncker’s team is to be devoted to increasing competitiveness in Europe, consequently strengthening the influence of the Single Markets and prioritising job growth, research and innovation.  Genuine fairness with regard to gender and geographical balance are amongst the general accepted priorities by all the Commissioners together with a clear rejection of the social dumping phenomena.

Violeta  Bul?, the Commissioner for Transport is fully committed to sustaining a competitive and inclusive transport market.  The issue of a relatively low number of female workers in the field of transportation will be addressed and high importance will be given on finding the right solutions in ensuring high quality of jobs.  The current lack of skill labour brings forward the need to make transport an attractive field, especially for young people.  Fairness in social conditions and in the internal market is highlighted as essential by Commissioner Bul?, who has also shown her dismissive approach to social dumping and who mentioned that social legislation needs to be part of the review and development in the area of transport as well.

That is all well and good, but it is not clear how that will run with, for instance, the Commission’s support for Norwegian International, the object of theanti-social dumping set’s ire.  The precedents for merely preserving the status quo, and highly paid, highly protected jobs is clear for all to see, and risks setting this sort of commentary up for a major embarrassment down the road.


The hotly debated Investment Plan proposed by Juncker has great allies amid the new Commissioners who seem to notice a great opportunity for growth and sustainable markets through its applicability.  In this context, the Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, has mentioned the prospect to leverage the EU budget in order to get profit in all Single Markets. Commissioner Bul? considers that the €300 billion investment will address financing needs and will support the immediate creation of jobs, while focusing on environmental aspects but draws the attention that the already available instruments from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) should and will be fully exploited in the meantime.

It is worth noting that the first spend of that money will go to the Deployment Manager for the deployment of the first tranche of upgrades for the Single European Sky project – announced on 5 December.  That, like the fund generally, will depend on contributions from industry to be a success.

The Environment

Environmental concerns are core subjects for many of the new Commissioners and the Commissioner for Climate Action and energy has made it very clear that the upshot is to have a safe environment.  This brings us to a clear logical conclusion: more innovation is needed and a more competitive market is expected as a consequence.


A gradual transformation of the entire transport system towards a better integration between modes, greater exploitation of the non-road alternatives, improved management of traffic flows through intelligent transport systems is foreseen as well.Accordingly, the transport system plans to fully integrate its stakeholders (cities, large companies, SMEs, new start-ups public transport providers and Member States) in the process of transport innovation.  Non-motorised forms of transport such as walking or cycling will be promoted and alternative fuels will be integrated on the market and the cut of the Greenhouse emissions will become a priority.  An appropriate framework for a more comprehensive multimodal travel project will be supported as well.  The legislative area will be fine grained as well, as it is expected to enable a legislation fir for purpose that will be rightfully implemented by the Member States and respected by them all.

A single integrated Europe

One of the top priorities in the field of transport is occupied by the completion of the Single European Transport Area. Significant efforts will go towards the rapid adoption of the Single European Sky initiative, through an active cooperation with the European Parliament and with the Council.  The gaps and shortcoming of the passenger’s rights will be evaluated, while integrated journey planners and ticketing services will be promoted.


Commissioner Bul? has loudly expressed her commitment to maintain the high level of safety and security that characterises the EU transport system.  High support will be given to enabling optimal connectivity across Europe, in an integrated conceptual system; TEN-T will be transformed in a reality.  The transport sector will take an innovative approach in leveraging EU funds allocated for the modernisation of EU infrastructure, as innovation is seen as a crucial factor in the current situation of the transport area, a  ‘technology push’ being necessary to find good alternatives for diverse problems.  Implementation of the new technologies in the transport area is anticipated, with Intelligent Transport Systems playing a major role with smart vehicles and infrastructure.

The ambitious plans should slowly turn into actions.  Commissioner Bul? is pledging for integrity, impartiality, availability and transparency in all professional actions with equal treatment offered to all the European institutions.  Hence we intend to keep an eye on how the whole structure imagined by Commissioner Bul? will slowly get a more comprehensible shape.  Ultimately if she is able to actually walk on fire we surely expect her to be quite spectacular.


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The time is now!

The term drone defines two categories of aircraft: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). The first group classifies the aircraft that flies automatically programmed, without having the assistance of a pilot, not even remotely. They are still unauthorised, both under ICAO and EU rules. The RPAS on the other hand, represent the drones controlled by a pilot from a distant location. The aircraft is not automated, having a pilot in charge at all times, representing the only type of drones that are authorised at the moment.

Drones have been subject to discussion for approximately a century, but from a rarity they became today’s reality. The most primitive form of a drone is described through the attack of the Austrians against Venice in 1849 when 200 unmanned balloons were sent with bombs in the Italian city. Although the concept does not meet the present definition of a drone, the idea was taken over and used in military actions after World War I and continued to be refined ever since, giving birth to a new eon of warfare.

Leaving aside military action, it is spectacular to see how innovative this concept began to be used in the last decades. Dull or dangerous activities have been taken over by RPAS that started to be used for civil purposes such as delivering mail; oil, gas and mineral exploration and production; commercial and motion picture filmmaking; disaster relief, scientific research or effective and timely application of fertilizers and insecticides at farms.

For the future, drone technology is expected to break records and by 2050 it is anticipated that a number of different aircraft categories will be operating in our service, as civil drones not only for monitoring infrastructure or fertilizing farms, but for the transportation of goods and people. The diversity displayed in size, performance and type that offers an immense potential for job creation and economic growth, transforms the market of drones into a key component for the aeronautics industry. From grams to more than ten tons, with speed levels of 1,000 km/h or with endurance records of months, RPAS have a wide range of options that leave space for an imagination without borders.

At the moment, the US and Israel dominate the global RPAS manufacturing. 1708 different RPAS are referenced around the world being produced or developed by 471 manufacturers around the world with 176 of them coming from Europe. The US industry research shows that following the first three years of RPAS integration in the national airspace, more than 70,000 new jobs are foreseen with an economic boost of around $13.6billion. In Japan, between 1993 and 2005 the number of RPAS operators was increased to about 14,000. In Europe150,000 new jobs are envisaged by 2050, excluding the operator services jobs. Before turning these figures in contracts, we need regulation!

The European Union is fully engaged in preparing all the necessary arrangements in order to allow the RPAS to take the skies, targeting as usual a safe, harmonised, cost effective and environmentally friendly setting.

On the 19th of December, 2013 the European Summit called for action to facilitate the integration of RPAS in the civil airspace starting with 2016. As soon as RPAS will reach the full potential and receive certification that they can actually integrate in the air traffic amongst traditional aircraft in non-segregated airspace, we will surely see them flying around.

RPAS operations are already authorised in civil purposes in non-segregated airspace by certain Member States but a number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way due to the differences existing between the Member States. National rules have been developed in order to facilitate the use of RPAS (Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden and the UK) but without mutual recognition.

Without European standards, to be developed by EASA in tight collaboration with the European Commission, Eurocontrol, the European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency, a real market of drones cannot come into sight.The current rules are coordinated by ICAO.  There is even an article in the Chicago Convention about drones, giving ICAO jurisdiction, and its view is that it will allow drone operations only in the case of specific authorizations given by national authorities.

In April 2014 the European Commission decided it is time to set concise and rigorous standards for regulating the operations of civil drones. Safety, security, data protection, insurance and liability are the core features to be taken into account. For the reason that this emerging technology has a striking potential to be used in various domains, creating new jobs and seriously contributing to the economical growth of Europe, the aim is to create as soon as possible the right environment to sustain this technology and to become a global leader on the market. The intention expressed by the Commission was to create the EU regulation in early 2015.

SESAR Joint Undertaken (SJU) is in charge with the research and development (R&D) of the future ATM in the context of Single European Sky. It is therefore in charge with the progressive integration of RPAS technologies, which need further development and validation. The defined actions for RPAS will be integrated in the next European ATM Master Plan, allowing a clear evaluation of the progress. SJU will weigh up among other factors, the spectrum allocation and management issues, security protection against psychical, electronic and cyber-attacks, the human factors issues and the decision capabilities to ensure a standardized and predictable behavior in all phases of flight.

Unlawful actions are not to be left out of interest in the case of RPAS.RPAS are often used in military action; therefore these drones could be tempting terrorists, criminal or rogue states to use them as weapons. RPAS could potentially be blocked or ground control stations could be hijacked. Hence, the security vulnerabilities play a crucial role in the regulation process.

Fundamental human rights have to be carefully protected so that the right to a private and family life, as well as the protection of personal data has to be watched over when mapping, recording or surveillance purposes are in the balance.Although Europe aims for the highest safety standards, accidents are not excluded. In this case, a clear set of rules must be set up so that in case they occur, victims will be rightfully compensated for injuries or damage. The liable part has to be easily identified and third-party insurance regime shall meet appropriate requirements, as in the case of traditional aircraft.

The clear set of regulations that will be created by EASA are expected to be compatible with the ICAO standards. RPAS must provide a safe, secure, harmonised and cost-effective setting as the traditional aircraft market does.

As the former Vice-President of the European Commission, Sim Kallas mentioned, it is normal to have concerns about all aspects entailed in this process of innovation, but “if ever there was a right time to do this […] it is now”. Once the regulations will be put in place, aviation might climb the ladder of innovation like never before. We all agree the regulations are in need, thus we are thrilled to see them in place. Strict rules, severe controls and a clear framework will allow the RPAS to take over the skies. And as soon as this will happen, estimates show that in the next 10 years, the market of RPAS will actually represent up to 10% of the aviation market, which is the equivalent for €15 billion.

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Update: The New Leading Team of the European Commission

The nominees for the new European Commission were proposed by the president-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker on 10 September 2014. The confirmations followed this month, on 22 October, as a result of the votes held in the European Parliament that gave quite a noteworthy support to the new European Commission, with 432 votes in favour, 209 against and 67 abstentions. The new Commissioners who are designated from the 28 member countries, including the President and the vice-presidents will occupy their new positions as of 1 November 2014, for a 5-year term.

Following the final decision, Juncker expressed his appreciation towards the democratic process that helped the team “cross the finish line”. The next step to be taken comes from the European Council that will formally appoint the European Commission. What we expect is to see a much more political orientation than in the previous Commission, as Juncker himself expressed that they are more than “just a bunch of technocrats”.

But let’s get down to more dynamic subjects. The new team did not cross the finish line in the same formula they started the race. Alenka Bratušek originally proposed as the Vice-President for the Energy Union. That was not well appreciated.  Bratušek was the out-going PM of Slovakia, and showing all that is perceived to be wrong with the Europe project, self-nominated for the cushy EC role when she lost the election.  She was roundly rejected and Slovakia had no option but to withdraw her nomination, replacing her with Violeta Bulc.

This nomination was considered rather unconventional- perhaps because she has a black belt in tae kwon do, and trained as a shaman. Therefore, although she could literally walk on fire, it was expected that she will have difficulties during the hearing for the Commissioner in the Energy Union. This might be why Juncker has thought of a strategic move that seemed to have worked!

Slovak Maroš Šef?ovi? of Slovenia was promoted to the Energy Union from his original home at Transport and Space and Bulc presented herself at the hearing for the transport committee, where she successfully managed to make herself heard. She was able to win over irritated MEPs by promoting a green agenda supported by her knowledge in the sector, as she has been the owner of an engineering company.

Based on this previous experience, she mentioned that she understands the importance of networks, but this only works with high quality infrastructure.

She was a true advocate for transportation, insisting that transport is the backbone of the economy, which is sometimes taken for granted. She promoted herself as the one who will try to change this attitude and to collaborate with the Parliament to bring up the field of transport to the right footing.

The principle that seemed to govern her priorities was interoperability, as transport should be connected at all levels; hence future plans in this area are foreseen. She emphasised a lot the importance of equal social conditions and the ageing factors and the load of female workers was discussed as well.

Other important topics raised by her, included the transport networks (TEN-T and CEF), funding for the transport sector, social dumping in the social sector, road safety, the 4th Railway Package and inland waterways.

What does all this mean? If she is true to her social dialogue rhetoric, there goes any hope of true reform for airlines, as any attempt to restructure will bog down in social dialogue and the selfish, expensive preservation of the status quo.  Even the legacy carriers, not famous for wanting change will be able to change that. On the other hand, we were hoping for more enthusiasm on the Single European Sky sector, but we only heard succinct information about this topic. Would this be explained by the fact that she actually had only four days to put her thoughts together, thus we should expect more? We definitely hope so.

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ATM: September in Figures

Traffic flow and the leading numbers in September

 As a premiere for 2014, the average en-route delay per flight was below the monthly guideline value of 0.59 min/flight, at0.52 min/flight. The overall average en-route delay per flight in 2014 to date is 0.70 min/flt, which is well above the guideline value of 0.53 min/flight.


Total traffic

 Compared to September 2013, September 2014saw an increase in traffic of 1.1%, remaining close to the baseline forecast.Although a slowdown in both April and September 2014 were registered, the slow recovery in traffic that dates back to April 2013 continues.


ATFM delays

 Regarding ATFM delays per flight, the average increased from 0.85 min/flight in September 2013 to 1.03 min/flight in September 2014. The main factors influencing this increaseare airport weather (29.5%), en-route ATC capacity (27.3%) and airport capacity (13.4%).


In comparison with September 2013, September 2014 sawen-route ATFM delays increase by 7.4% and airport ATFM delays increase by 42.7%. The average daily traffic delay in September fell below the levels from 2011 for the first time since May 2014.


Compared to August 2014, the delays from Nicosia ACC and Tel Aviv/Ben Gurion airport reduced significantly in September. Main factors for ATFM delays were adverse weather conditions that have impacted the operations in various airports and some ACCs.


Delays – causes and locations


  •  Unfavourable weather conditions:




Amsterdam Schiphol

Barcelona/El Prat






  • En-route ATC capacity issues:













  • Airport capacity issues:







  • Airport ATC staffing:




  • Airport ATC capacity issue:





  • Seasonal Weather:










En-route ATFM delays in 2014 are higher than the corresponding levels in2013:


  • High en-route capacity (ATC) and en-route staffing (ATC) delays:












  • Adverse weather which commenced in July continues to affect theen-route element of the network in:








  • En-route disruptions due to the French ATC industrial action:








  • En-route event delays generated by Warsaw ACC (PEGASUS 21ATM system implementation) and Langen


Special issues:


The crisis in Ukraine still has an evident impact on the traditional traffic flow, increasing the traffic in the neighbouring ACCs up to 10%. Another similar situation took place as a consequence of the closure of the Libyan airspace, which was extended to 15October.


Industrial action by Air France and Lufthansa pilots led to significant cancellations of flights, while the industrial action at ENAV, the Italian ANSP impacted the local operations in Karlsruhe, Maastricht and Reims ACCs.


What the industrial actions and indeed the weather show is that aviation is an ecosystem. One part impacts another. The French controllers strike called for more work in neighbouring centres, a fact somewhat glossed over by the French controllers.

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