Single European Sky: EU urges action on joint airspace

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Media captionExperts say job losses are inevitable if a new European airspace plan is introduced

The European Commission says EU governments could face fines if they continue delaying measures to create a single European airspace.

The Commission, which drafts EU laws, says there is too much national fragmentation in Europe's air traffic control - and that costs the EU nearly 5bn euros (£4bn) annually.

It says the Single European Sky plan could triple air traffic and cut costs.

Currently flights are too long, creating extra pollution, it says.

Image caption Jets at Heathrow: Europe's airlines face intense global competition

The Commission estimates that Europe's air management inefficiencies add 42km (26 miles) to the average flight.

It adds that the US - a comparable aviation market - handles twice as many flights for the amount that Europe spends on flight management.

The EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, said that early next year he would present new draft legislation to accelerate implementation of the single airspace plan and to step up enforcement actions, including infringement procedures where necessary.

Member states which fail to implement EU laws on time can be taken to the European Court of Justice, which has the power to impose fines.

The single airspace plan sets performance targets aimed at boosting airspace capacity and cutting costs.

Under the plan, the many national air traffic control systems would be merged into nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs).

A European network manager would also have new centralised powers, including authority for route planning.

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