Last month, the European Commission received recommendations from high-level aviation experts on the future of air traffic management in Europe. European air transport is facing a major challenge due to air traffic congestion, as the number of passengers is growing year by year, and the growth exceeds the current capacity of the aviation infrastructure.

Last year, European air traffic increased by 3.8%. More than 11 million flights were operated, and the average delay per flight doubled compared to the previous year. The air network generated a total of 19.1 million minutes of en-route ATFM delays,* while the average en-route ATFM delay per flight for the year was 1.73 minutes (the annual target was 0.5 minutes), while the average AFTM delay for missed flight was 19 minutes.

60.4% of ATFM delays last year were due to capacity and staffing, 25.3% to weather, and 14% to strikes/disruptive events.

The forecast for this summer according to Eurocontrol data is not encouraging. Delays due to air traffic congestion are again expected to double this summer, which means even more delayed flights than in the past season.

Challenges up to 2040

According to Eurocontrol, air traffic is expected to increase by as much as 53% by the year 2040, the lack of airport capacity will result in 1.5 million flights that will not be able to fly, and the average delay per flight is expected to be 20 minutes.

In the past year, Adria Airways, like all European carriers, saw an increase in the number of changes to its flight schedule, which resulted in delays and cancellations. Airspace restrictions, weather conditions and a lack of crew members were cited as the most common factors.

"From the operational point of view, a demanding period lies ahead of us, as all European air carriers are once again facing a number of challenges. In our daily operations we are already facing the first consequences of restrictions of European airspace, and there will be significantly more of them during the summer. Delays are inevitable and passengers and air carriers have to start preparing for them now. These are irregularities that we have little influence on as a carrier and cannot avoid them," said Tadej Notersberg, Accountable Manager and Chief Operating Officer of Adria Airways.

"We were faced with a crew shortage last year, but the situation is better this year. We significantly increased crew recruitment and training last year, and this is continuing this year. I expect that we will be able to manage the circumstances on which we have a direct influence, as we have prepared well for them," added Notersberg.