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Mobility and Transport
News article14 April 2021Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

Aviation: European Commission receives high-level recommendations on air traffic management in Europe

Today the European Commission received recommendations by high-level aviation experts on the future of air traffic management in Europe. The so-called "wise persons group" was set up by the Commission to consider recent developments in European aviation, listen to the views of major air traffic management stakeholders and produce proposals on the future direction of air traffic management in Europe.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Due to the growth of air traffic forecasts, we can expect further delays for air passengers too. That is unacceptable. We urgently need to deploy environmentally friendly solutions that allow for more flexibility, scalability and resilience. I am inviting Member States, the European Parliament and the aviation community to consider the recommendations released today. We know what to do, now we need common and coordinated efforts to help make the European air traffic management system more efficient, flexible and sustainable in the future."

In 2018 there were over 11 million flights in the European network and delays per flight doubled compared to 2017. Forecasts predict that in Europe by 2040 1.5 million flights will not be accommodated due to capacity constraints meaning that 160 million passengers would not be able to fly. Delays are due to problems such as underinvestment in some area control centres, which impact the entire network.

The report of the wise persons group includes ten recommendations on how to make the European air traffic management system more efficient, flexible and sustainable in the future. The report recommendations include measures such as the following:

Short-term measures (over next two years)

  • Continue with airspace restructuring measures examined in a study carried out by the Network Manager and SESAR Joint Undertaking (Airspace Architecture Study) to increase collaboration across national borders and to make better use of modern digital data, automation and communications technologies.
  • Accelerate the deployment of state of the art technologies.
  • The group fully supports the short term measures starting on 25 April to minimise air traffic flow management delays which the Network Manager (EUROCONTROL) is working on together with the aviation sector.

Long-term solutions

  • Increased role of the Network Manager to make sure all air traffic managers act in the common European interest
  • Improve the link between the quality of air traffic service and the price paid by those who fly. For example, organisations that are first to put in place innovative solutions should be rewarded.
  • Upgrading the role of air traffic controllers with better support by technology, and improving synergies with military air traffic managers.
  • Establish a European (Upper) Airspace System with a common route charging system to stimulate the use of the shortest routes and to avoid prolonging flights due to congestion, and consequently deliver benefits for the environment.

Next steps

The high-level recommendations will be further discussed with the aviation stakeholders in the coming months. The Commission will propose that ATM delays and the measures envisaged to improve the situation will be addressed by Ministers during the June Transport Council. On 12 September, the Commission is organising, together with the Finnish Presidency, a high level conference with the aviation community to commit to the implementation of the future European air traffic management.

More information

The comprehensive list of all recommendations including further details are available in the

20 JULY 2021
(1.11 MB - PDF)


Wise Persons Group

14 April 2021:

20 JULY 2021
(737.69 KB - PDF)



Publication date
14 April 2021
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport