On 12 March 2014, the European Parliament (EP) has voted on the Single European Sky recast regulation (SES2+). Despite the pressure put by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), its affiliates and other stakeholders, the EP did not oppose the European Commission’s approach to dogmatically liberalise the ATM (air traffic management) industry and disregarded its safety-critical aspects.
The ETF, representing more than 25,000 Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) and ATM staff, has been opposing the Commission’s text on SES2+ from the beginning. The proposal introduces competition into all fields with a mandatory structural separation between supervisory authorities and service providers and with performance requirements driven by cost reduction. It also imposes a unique FAB (Functional Airspace Block) model which disregards particularities of individual member states and lacks any human or social dimension: no binding “human factor pillar” and no genuine social dialogue at all levels. Furthermore, with SES2+ the Commission is producing another piece of legislation, while the previous packages – (SES1 and SE2) – have not yet been fully implemented.
The European Parliament (EP) followed the Commission‘s approach. The most controversial elements are still in the text, as among others the unbundling of the so-called support services, namely communications, navigations and surveillance systems (CNS), aeronautical information services, meteorological services and training.
ETF Political Secretary François Ballestero said: “A mandatory separation of supervisory activities and service providers together with unbundling of support services totally disregard national realities in many member states. There is no proof that this measure will increase efficiency, the contrary. The ETF believes that it will create an unnecessary social burden.”
Riccardo Rubini, President of the ETF ATM Committee and active air traffic controller, commented on the safety aspect: “The so-called ‘support’ services are in fact vital to air traffic management. For instance, communication, navigations and surveillance systems containing radio communication, radar antenna and phone communication are the ‘eyes and ears’ of Air Traffic Controllers. Forced unbundling will break the ATM safety chain. On behalf of ETF, I would like to thank those Members of the European Parliament who have supported the ETF demands.”
The ETF is determined to continue its efforts for having a Single European Sky that includes safety and social aspects, being the key factors for success.