Many Member States are seriously lagging behind and not yet fully compliant with requirements to make nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) fully operational, for the deadline of 4 December 2012. A critical deadline has been missed for FABs, the regional airspace blocks which are a key element for the ambitious plans to create a single European airspace – tripling European airspace capacity and halving air traffic control costs. The Commission warned today that it will launch infringement procedures against Member States for all the Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) which are not yet fully compliant with all legal requirements. It will also present a new package of legislative measures in Spring 2013 to accelerate reforms and ensure the full delivery of a Single European Sky.

Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “We will take every possible action to make the Single European Sky a reality. The costs of congestion and delays in the air are paid for on a daily basis by European citizens and business when the fly. Add to that the cost to the economy in lost efficiency and the environmental price we pay and it is clear that the Single European Sky is too important to be allowed to fail. At a time of economic crisis we cannot afford to live with the status quo. Right now the implementation of the reform of Europe’s airspace is falling seriously behind. FABs are the cornerstone of the Single European Sky infrastructure and a critical deadline has been missed. There is no other option but to strongly enforce EU law.”

According to EU legislation, Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) had to be implemented by 4 December 2012. A total of 9 FABs covering the whole EU plus 4 more States (Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Norway, Switzerland) have been established, which represents significant progress. On the other hand, these FABs are not yet genuinely “functional” as they still follow national borders or have not yet optimised their air navigation services, or both. The main cause of this shortcoming has been a protracted focus on finalising institutional issues rather than on identifying and actioning operational improvements and undue protection of national interests.


The Single European Sky (SES) is a flagship European initiative to reform the architecture of European air traffic control, to meet future capacity and safety needs. Building on initiatives in the late 1990s, the Single Sky I (SES I) package was adopted in 2004, the Single Sky II Package (SES II) was adopted in 2009.

With full implementation of the SES:

  • Safety will be improved by a factor of ten;
  • Airspace capacity will be tripled;
  • The costs of air traffic management will be reduced by 50%;
  • The impact on the environment will be reduced by 10%.

Next Steps

The European Commission will proceed shortly by sending letters of formal notice to all parties concerned.

Source: European Commission

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