Airspace Integration Week 2023, which was held at the IFEMA convention centre in Madrid from 25 to 28 September, organised by ATCA (Air Traffic Control Association) and where ENAIRE played a key role, has taken a major step towards becoming a global benchmark for the air navigation industry.
Airspace Integration Week 2023 covered three essential areas of the future paradigm of the air transport sector: the present and future of air traffic management (ATM), the management of drone operations (U-Space) and space traffic management (STM), all in an effort to promote civil-military coordination in the use of airspace.
In this regard, the growth in the number of flights managed by ENAIRE in Spain is a key factor for national tourism, and thus for the economy and employment. As part of Airspace Integration Week, ENAIRE, at its annual client day, presented a summary of air traffic and quality data for the service it provided this summer.
ENAIRE, the national air navigation service provider, conveyed a very important piece of information to the various users of Spanish airspace: it confirmed the trend that gives us confidence that the aviation sector's recovery is firm and sustained. Given the number of flights operated in Spain compared to those operated in Europe, this is a recovery that confirms our country as a catalyst for a key sector for the economy and employment.
Optimisation of airspace capacity
Spain accounts for 22% of European air traffic, and only 6% of en route delays. Spain is increasing its air traffic with an average en route delay that is 73% below the European average.
It should be noted that, with the same level of air traffic as in 2019, the total delay for causes attributable to ENAIRE's management fell by 33.9% in total between January and August, and 28.3% in the summer season (July to August), compared to the equivalent periods in 2019. This result proves that the projects and measures applied by ENAIRE to boost efficiency and improve its management of available capacity are on the right track.
Route efficiency has risen by 2% despite the increased air traffic and the consequent increase in the number of nautical miles flown, which was 13% for the period from January to August 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
Route efficiency saw an increase in the first few months of the year in terms of environmental sustainability, with a reduction of 207,000 nautical miles flown, equivalent to 384,000 km (almost ten times around the Earth), which translates into 7,200 tonnes of CO2 not emitted into the atmosphere and 2,300 tonnes of fuel saved, to the benefit of all users.
Efficiency also improved in vertical terms, since in the first eight months of 2023 (January-August), 35% of the descents authorised by ENAIRE at major airports were continuous descent operations (more efficient), compared to an average at the main European airports of 14% in the same period, which places Spain's air navigation manager as the leading air navigation service provider in terms of continuous descents, in response to requests from its clients.
ENAIRE's latest forecasts confirm the recovery of air traffic in Spain following the COVID-19 pandemic. The year 2023 continues the upward recovery that began in 2022, and is expected to close out with 1% more traffic than 2019, and almost 10% more than 2022.
Air traffic in Spain is already above the 2019 levels, while Europe is only at 90.6% of the 2019 figures on average. ENAIRE oversaw the most flights in Spain's aviation history this summer, with almost 7,200 daily operations on average. The previous record was beaten twice in the summer of 2023: on Saturday, 22 July, ENAIRE managed 7,449 flights, and then on 12 August, it managed 7,440 flights. The old record was from 20 July 2019, with 7,425 flights. The trend in the number of flights recorded thus far suggests that 2023 will be our country's best year ever for aviation. The control centres of Barcelona, Seville, the Canary Islands and Palma managed more flights in August and in the summer season (June, July and August) than in 2019.
By control centre, from June to August, compared to 2019 in the same period, Seville had the largest increase in the number of flights, 14.7%, followed by Barcelona (3.6%) and the Canary Islands (3.4%). Similar figures are observed in the cumulative total from January, with Seville reporting a 14.2% increase over 2019; Barcelona, 3.1% and Palma, 5.4%.