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The ETF welcomes the Council position on the reform of the Single European Sky. The 27 EU Member States today unanimously endorsed the modified text of the Air Traffic Management (ATM) reform prepared by the Portuguese Presidency.
While the Member States made it clear they support the overall objective of the proposed reform – to improve the European ATM system – they reject some of the measures proposed by the Commission as they deem them unjustified and lacking a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, a concern the ETF have been raising ever since the Commission SES2+ recast proposal was introduced in September 2020. The Portuguese Presidency has come up with a compromised text reflecting some of these concerns.
National sovereignty takes precedence
The ETF welcomes the following changes introduced by the Members States to the Commission’s initial SES2+ proposal. In particular, the ETF is pleased the Member States and the Portuguese Presidency do not give in to the various pressures and keep in mind the ATM is a critical infrastructure whose purpose is to serve all citizens and travelling public while ensuring safety at all times.(more…)
Following unilateral salary cuts and the employer’s refusal to negotiate a collective agreement, air traffic controllers in Tirana declared a temporary inability to work due to stress earlier this week. As a consequence, more than a dozen flights to and from Tirana International Airport were cancelled.
Albanian authorities reacted to this decision by force and sent in troops and police to clear the air traffic controllers out of the flight control tower. There have also been several reports of air traffic controllers being arrested or taken into police custody. Meanwhile, prime minister Edi Rama threatened legal action against protesting workers and threatened to fire those who refused to return to work.
This unnecessarily violent response by the state only aggravates an already difficult situation workers are facing after more than a year of uncertainty and stress.
The ETF stands in solidarity with the protesting workers and condemns the aggressive backlash of the state. The right to protest and the right to strike are fundamental rights of workers and must be respected. We call on the state to recognise the key role of air traffic controllers and engage in a constructive dialogue.
Covid-19 demonstrated that aviation is a critical strategic infrastructure and service, providing essential connectivity, promoting socio-economic cohesion and timely supply of goods, thus serving our societies.
The professionals working in aviation – who provide a safe & dedicated service – are a crucial part of the aviation ecosystem: both before, during and after the crisis, and any potential recurrence thereof, and during the recovery – which is expected to be of unpredictable length.
This strategic infrastructure, service and its people deserve priority attention. To do so, policy-makers and aviation stakeholders must use the crisis to rethink the ‘old’ system and to ‘repair’ its structural weaknesses and distortions that the crisis revealed – which, if unaddressed, will hinder the recovery, weaken the aviation sector, and harm the public interest.
The statement is available here.
This ETF statement is identical to and supportive of the statement by other aviation professionals’ organisations available here.
Prior to the Transport Council of December ETF and the other Professionnal Staff Organisations are giving their views on the actual need and the future of the Single European Sky. The voice of the workers of the european ATM industry needs to be heard.
As representatives of the ATM workers directly involved, we request that there is a pause in the non-achievable targets of the performance scheme. However, we recommend that the SES initiatives focus on realistic and
implementable projects with benefits that can be linked to achievable performance scheme targets. We also demand that the industry and the EU work on common standards that will improve the strongly needed
interoperability of our systems.
Finally, as it started in the EASA, the social impact of any further regulation should be assessed in detail, in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Following the report on the Future of the Single European Sky drafted by the ‘Wise Persons Group’ (WPG) created by the European Commission, the ETF deplores that the recommendations are oriented to please the airlines to the detriment of the other stakeholders. The ATM staff are more and more critical to the method which consists of listening mainly officials who have a business-driven sensitiveness against the quality of the service. For the ETF, it is clear that the safety and the security of the passengers and the non-flying citizens on ground are paramount.
The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which represents more than 15.000 Air Traffic Controllers and all the other categories of the Air Traffic Management (ATM) staff, noticed, for instance, that the Social Dialogue doesn’t exist for the ‘Wise Persons Group’ while it is indispensable to smoothly achieve all the changes proposed in the report. At EU level, the social partners can make recommendations to their members notably to create success stories through a good and genuine social dialogue.
The ETF is not rejecting a digital European sky by a progressive increase of the level of automation support, new technologies as well as the use of interoperable systems. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the modernisation of the European ATM leading to a new organisation of the work, especially at the workplace, needs to be carefully monitor notably through a change management process established together with the staff representatives at all levels. It is a pity that staff such as AIS/AIM had no representative in this WPG.
The ATM is a service of general interest and it is the ETF view that safety seems to play a marginal role for the WPG compared to other criteria such as economic performance. It is the case when the WPG proposes to set up an independent competent economic regulator which would oversee the performance of service providers. The ETF is totally opposed to such a body which will be lobbied by the airlines associations, without a public control.
At the same time, Eurocontrol would have more power as Network Manager (NM), with the risk of becoming a new monopoly, which is against the EU policy. The most important is that the WPG does not mention that the first mission of the NM is safety and not a creator of capacity. Strangely, they want to empower it for managing the capacities of the service providers but not towards the behaviour of the airspace users which is causing a lot of inefficiencies in the network.
In conclusion, the ETF calls the European Commission to organise a round table with all concerned parties to discuss this report in order to come to a more balanced approach. There would be a real added value to ask the opinion of all the EU ATM staff representatives to make the Single European Sky more efficient in the future.
Following the adoption of the new performance and charging regulation, the Commission is currently in the process of setting the targets for RP3. We have joined with the other PSOs in expressing our concern at the proposed targets. The targets are broadly more of the same that we saw in RP2 and will do nothing to ease the current capacity problems. The level of cost reduction required is worrying and we are having great difficulty in seeing just how capacity can be improved whilst making savings.
At the next Single Sky Committee meeting at the end of March, it is expected that the Member State representatives will vote on the proposed targets. We have, with the other PSOs, written to those state representatives expressing our concern and asking them to push for a modest rise in costs to help resolve the ongoing capacity problems.