Skip to main content
Mobility and Transport
News article4 June 2019Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

Aviation: European Commission adopts targets to improve air traffic in Europe for next five years

Today, the European Commission adopted performance targets for air navigation services for the period 2020-2024. Under the Aviation Strategy for Europe, the Commission is continuously working to improve air traffic performance to the benefit of people and the environment. The targets determine the level of ambition for the entities responsible for air traffic management in Europe. Among others, targets are set regarding the punctuality of flights, efficiency of flight paths and the cost of service to the benefit of airlines and passengers, while ensuring the highest safety standards. It is the responsibility of Member States now to set local targets and of the national air navigation service providers to implement them.

EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: "The Commission's priority in setting the new targets is to push air traffic control in Europe to address the problem of delays and cancellations by providing more air traffic capacity to meet demand in the coming years and to curb avoidable emissions caused by flight inefficiency. This will need to be done while maintaining the highest standards of safety and containing the cost for passengers. I am inviting all partners in the aviation sector to work together to take air traffic management in Europe to a new level."

Adopted Union-wide performance targets:

  • Safety: Air traffic management in Europe is very safe. The targets set small additional improvements in the safety culture and risk management. They should trigger improvements in identifying hazards, assessing risks and implementing mitigation measures.
  • Environment:The average actual distance flown by aircraft should be shortened by an additional 0.2 percentage point as compared to the target for 2019. This would improve flight efficiency, reducing fuel burn, and thus avoid a large amount of CO2 emissions per year.
  • Capacity: Despite the current problems with delay, the targets for capacity must remain ambitious. In 2018, the average delay per flight was 1.83 minutes. The target is to move towards 0.9 minutes in the next years and as of 2023 the average Air Traffic Flow Management delay per flight shall not exceed 0.5 minute. Reaching the target would significantly reduce delays for passengers and support the increasing demand for traffic.
  • Cost-efficiency: By the end of 2024 the average determined unit cost for air navigation services should be lower than today. The targets set a reduction around 15% as compared to the 2017 actual unit rate. This allows Member States and respectively their Air Navigation Service Providers to invest in capacity provision. However, further efficiency gains are still needed and possible due to new technologies and procedures and due to the fact that air navigation service providers will have an increased income due to higher traffic. This would reduce the cost to airspace users, enabling airlines to offer lower fares to passengers.

Member States gave a positive opinion on the performance targets at a meeting of the Single Sky Committee on 1 April 2019. The Performance Review Body, the group of high-level aviation specialists advising the Commission on the performance of the Single European Sky, had consulted stakeholders and published its final recommendation on the targets in February 2019.

Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2019/903 of 29 May 2019 setting the Union-wide performance targets for the air traffic management network for the third reference period starting on 1 January 2020 and ending on 31 December 2024

Next steps

Member States have to set local performance targets consistent with the adopted Union-wide targets by 1 October 2019. The Commission will then assess the consistency of the local performance targets with the Union-wide targets, and may accept the local targets or request revisions if they are not consistent.


The performance and charging schemes of the Single European Sky are the regulatory instruments through which the Commission drives performance of air navigation services in cooperation with Member States, national supervisory authorities and operational stakeholders.


Publication date
4 June 2019
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport