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8 Dec, 2014

Aviation: EU allocates €3 bn to deliver the Single European Sky

European Commission – Press release, Brussels, 05 December 2014 – Today the European Commission will sign a new partnership agreement, involving major Air Traffic Management (ATM) stakeholders. Airlines, airport operators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) will receive up to €3 bn in EU funding, in order to implement common projects and modernise Europe’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) System. Today’s agreement with the SESAR Deployment Alliance consortium aims to enhance the performance of Europe’s ATM systems, in order to manage more flights in a safer and less-costly manner, while reducing the environmental impact of each flight.

Commissioner Violeta Bulc said, “Today’s agreement is a great achievement for EU aviation, forever changing Europe’s air navigation system, making it smarter, cheaper, greener, and safer. It also marks an important step towards the accomplishment of the Single European Sky. These projects will translate into economic benefits for the whole EU with a contribution of over €400 bn to its GDP, the creation of over 300,000 new jobs and saving 50 million tons of CO2 emissions.”


The SESAR JU was established in 2007 to coordinate all the ATM related research and development activities in the EU under the 2007-2013 financial perspectives, which limited the duration of the Joint Undertaking to 31 December 2016. It is a unique public-private partnership that aims to develop a new generation of air traffic management (ATM) system capable of coping with growing air traffic, under the safest, most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly conditions. It is also the “guardian” of the European ATM Master Plan, the roadmap for all SESAR JU’s activities and their future deployment.

The SESAR Deployment Alliance (SDA) consortium has been established specifically for the purpose of deploying SESAR through the concept of Common Projects; it represents a large number of the operational stakeholders impacted by the Pilot Common Project (PCP).

The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) was created by the European Commission to manage the technical and financial implementation of several EU programmes including the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Applicants can answer to the first call for proposal related to SESAR deployment project up to 26th February 2015. Annual calls are expected in the future.

For more information:

Frequently Asked Questions: MEMO/13/666

SESAR Joint Undertaking

SESAR deployment alliance

Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport website

INEA Agency (Connecting Europe Facility)

Facts and Figures

  • A macro-economic impact assessment showed that SESAR would create a combined positive impact on EU GDP of €419 bn over the period 2013-2030, with an estimated creation of 328,000 jobs, including indirect and inducted impacts.
  • The European ATM system involves 37 Air Navigation Service Providers and is a business worth €8.6 bn, employing some 57,000 staff of which 16,900 are air traffic controllers.
  • European skies and airports risk saturation. Already some 800 million passengers pass through Europe’s more than 440 airports every year. Each day there are around 27,000 controlled flights – that means 9 million cross Europe’s skies each year. The management of all these flights is ensured by the ATM system.
  • Today’s situation is competently handled by the European air transport sector, but, under normal economic conditions, air traffic is expected to grow by up to 3% annually. The number of flights is expected to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years.
  • The central problem is that Europe’s air traffic management systems are fragmented and inefficient.
  • EU airspace remains fragmented into 27 national air traffic control systems, providing services from some 60 air traffic centres while the airspace is divided into more than 650 sectors. That means airspace is currently structured around national boundaries and so flights are often unable to take direct routes. On average, in Europe, aircraft fly 42 km longer than strictly necessary due to airspace fragmentation, causing longer flight time, delays, extra fuel burn and CO2 emissions.
  • In addition, current air traffic management technologies were designed in the 1950s. They are now archaic.
  • The inefficiencies caused by Europe’s fragmented airspace bring extra costs of around €5 billion a year. These costs get passed on to business and passengers. Air traffic control currently makes up 6-12% of the cost of a ticket.
  • The US air traffic management system is twice as efficient as that of the EU; it manages double the number of flights for a similar cost from a third as many control centres.
  • Faced with these challenges, in the late 1990s, proposals were formed to create a Single European Sky, removing national boundaries in the air, to create a single airspace:
  • The SESAR JU has a critical role to play in developing the technology to deliver the Single European Sky, the flagship project to create a single European airspace:

a) improving safety tenfold,

b) tripling airspace capacity,

c) reducing air traffic management costs by 50%,

d) reducing the environmental impact by 10%.