Single Sky funding framework penalises ANSPs

Single Sky funding rules are failing to encourage industry investment in line with the roadmap drafted by the SESAR Deployment Manager because air navigation service providers (ANSP) are expected to hand over the promised cost savings immediately to the airline industry – long before any financial benefits have kicked in through improved operational efficiency.

The A6 Alliance grouping of some of the major European ANSPs that are driving the deployment of new advanced SESAR technologies and operational concepts insist that a basic assumption of Single Sky funding is to ensure the timely, co-ordinated and synchronised deployment in order to deliver an advanced ATM system for Europe.

They argue that funding must primarily enable ANSPs to increase the speed of SESAR deployment by providing the necessary financial means and flexibility. “By means of the CEF funding, the ANSPs have additional motivation to actively undertake the planned investments and to move investments forward in time, as the investment plans are backed by public funds,” they insist.

In a position paper released today the A6 Alliance grouping of European ANSPs point out that while they have applied for significant amounts of European Union funding from the Connecting Europe Facility and have together helped establish the SESAR Deployment Alliance in order to accelerate the rollout of SESAR, that funding has been applied for in anticipation of a future correction to the regulatory framework.

They argue that CEF funds are not strictly being used for the implementation of the trans-European transport network and that instead, they are effectively being asked to funnel what amounts to little more than EU subsidies to Europe’s airline industry.

“Contrary to the perception of the airline industry and political stakeholders, a sustainable reduction in cost for the provision of air navigation services shall and can to a major extent only be achieved through an increase in productivity,” the A6 Alliance argues. “The main driver for productivity is the implementation of new SESAR developed operational procedures and technologies as outlined within the European ATM Master Plan.”

“Not directing CEF funds at the deployment of these sustainable productivity increases but funneling CEF funds towards the airline industry on behalf of the EU constitutes a questionable and ineffective use of taxpayer’s money.”

They argue that it is the new and advanced operational procedures and technologies they are developing that will enable a true, parallel reduction of costs across the European network.

Air navigation charges should be gradually reduced as a result of the implementation of SESAR envisioned operational benefits and not be reduced artificially via industry subsidies. They should also be reduced sustainably via a true lower determined cost base resulting from operational performance gains which contrary to airline industry subsidies represent a sustainable improvement of the cost-effectiveness of ANSPs.

“SESAR deployment is mainly driven and enabled by ANSPs who often incur unplanned costs to accelerate deployments or from business restructuring to enable the productivity benefits to be realised,” they note.

They add that the current rules would go against the established performance based approach where ANSPs are no longer subject to full cost recovery without any economic risk sharing mechanism. “The revised regulatory framework on the handling of CEF funds should take this into account and enable the acquisition of funds which can be used by the ANSP within the context of achieving the goals set within the Performance Plans,” they argue.

The position paper concludes that the current funding rules also discriminate against ANSPs compared to airports as they are ultimate beneficiaries of the CEF framework, leading to a non-level-playing field.

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