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Air traffic Management (ATM) as part of the wider aviation industry is facing the most significant crisis in its history. ATM staff continues to provide an essential service to ensure flights can continue to operate, with cargo and medical flights playing a particularly important role at the moment. Despite the vital importance of the industry, there are several crucial on-going issues. These are relevant to the continuing provision of ATM services now and, even more importantly, in the future, after we emerge from the current situation.
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.
The Professional Staff Organisations would like to take the opportunity to give our views on the ongoing process of the updating of the Single European Sky Performance and Charging Regulations.
The current PRB proposals for target setting and the last European Commission proposal on RP3 legislation leaves PSOs exasperated. We seriously question how these PRB recommendations and EC proposals can contribute to solve the current problems and to allow the safe and efficient flow of traffic in the European ATM system.
An urgent action plan is needed, with 2 fundamental pillars: providing sufficient safe capacity for summers 2019-2021 and recruiting sufficient Air Traffic Controllers, ATSEPs, needed for the implementation of SESAR technologies while maintaining legacy (existing) systems, and other expert ATM staff. This has to be properly supported by an appropriate performance framework that allows this to happen.
The PSOs turn to EU members states and call for them to be the guarantor of the integrity of the EU aviation sector by pushing for a swift and comprehensive recovery plan for the ATM industry and properly preparing for the medium-term future, involving all stakeholders.
We would urge member states to reject the current proposals.
The Commission has recently published a draft text for a new combined performance and charging regulation that will govern the SES Performance Scheme. It is anticipated that this regulation will be in place for RP3, that commences at the beginning of 2020. ETF together with the other staff associations, ATCEUC, IFATCA, IFASEA and IFAIMA have for the last year been inputting into various consultation forums as well as holding bilateral meetings with the European Commission to present the staff view and influence the drafting of the regulation. On 29th May the Commission held a consultation workshop with Canso, Airspace users and Staff Associations together with members of the Single Sky Committee to gain initial feedback. This was supported with a presentation from the three stakeholder groups. The letter below summarises our main issues with the draft text, and these have been sent to the Commission and member state representatives. The Commission took away much feedback from the meeting, and we will await the outcome of the Single Sky Committee meeting, and it is likely that a revised draft text will be produced in due course.
The Expert Group on the Human Dimension (EGHD) has been asked by the European Commission for a position paper on the future of the Performance and Charging scheme regulations. These regulations govern the performance scheme which regulates ATM providers on Safety, Cost, Capacity, and the Environment. The regulations are currently being revised and amended by the European Commission in advance of RP3 which starts on 1st Jan 2020. Over the last months and as briefed at our last meeting in Madrid this paper has been the topic of some discussion, but we have reached consensus and the final paper is published below. The EGHD is made up of the ATM Social Partners (ETF, ATCEUC and CANSO) and the staff professional organisations (IFATCA, IFATSEA and IFAIMA).