Five professional organizations working in the field of air navigation services – the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC), the European Transport Federation (ETF), the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA), the International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA) and the International Federation of Aeronautical Information Management Associations (IFAIMA) – call in a joint statement on the members of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) of the European Parliament for urgent measures to support the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to ensure the sustainability and recovery of the sector after the crisis. The professional organizations express their strong discontent with the proposed by the European Commission changes in the regulatory mechanisms set for the period 2020 – 2024. The organizations express their discontent with the proposals of the European Commission for measures that would jeopardize the activity and quality of services, the preservation of key jobs and maintaining the current working conditions. ANSP’s revenues depend entirely on the payments of the airlines and do not depend on the state budgets and aid. ANSPs are facing huge financial difficulties since the beginning of the crisis. They are caused by the lack of revenue from the airlines, which postponed the payment of service fees for subsequent years, and the lack of traffic. The statement emphasizes that in the short term, ANSPs are fighting the risk of financial insolvency and that the long-term strategic investments in technology and human resources, which are key to ensuring a digitally sustainable European sky, are jeopardized. Link to the document: http://www.atceuc.org/documents/pdf/joint-psos/–letter-to-members-of-tran-committee.197.html
At an informal meeting of the EU Ministers of Transport, the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Rossen Jelyazkov called on the European Commission to ensure a balanced and fair approach in the implementation of the performance scheme for the third reference period and air navigation service providers to be able to recover their costs for 2020/2021. The Minister pointed out that a comprehensive package of regulatory measures is needed at EU level for sustainable growth in aviation, because the situation is serious and urgent financial support is needed for the sector.
According to the Minister, the easing of the state aid regime can play a major role in the successful stabilization and recovery of the transport sector in the short run. “This will allow the revitalization of viable enterprises. In the long run, securing the necessary investments is crucial. An important factor in this regard is the provision of sufficient funding from the instruments at EU level, which will ensure support for the transport sector in a sustainable, efficient and intelligent way”, noted Minister Rossen Jelyazkov.
Meanwhile, the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) and the European Transport Federation (ETF) have reacted sharply to the pressure from the European institutions to drastically and unjustifiably reduce costs in the field of air transport services. They announced that they would suspend the dialogue with the European Commission until a fairer and more balanced approach was achieved to air navigation service providers, which are critical infrastructure in terms of flight safety and security, and which are required to provide continuous work for flights, vital for the fight against COVID19, as well as constant readiness for the forthcoming recovery of traffic.
The entire world is experiencing unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtually all industries and businesses have been impacted but the aviation industry has been one of the worst affected, due to the travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Air traffic around the world has reduced by 80-90% compared to last year.
Amid this pandemic, Air Traffic Management (ATM) staff and, in particular, air traffic controllers continue to work, keeping our skies safe. They provide an essential service to the medical, humanitarian, military, repatriation and cargo flights still taking place. International organisations, governments, regulators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) must ensure continuity of operations while complying with the health and sanitary requirements that this situation demands. They must also provide sufficient financial and regulatory support to the ANSPs to fulfil their mission.
The current situation highlights that Air Navigation Services are part of a country’s critical infrastructure, playing a key role in the distribution of much-needed medical supplies to address this health crisis. Regrettably, the funding of this critical infrastructure is at risk due to the flawed financing mechanism that includes airspace users wanting to defer the payment of route charges already incurred. This will severely impact both the current and future operation of ANSPs.
Although it is not clear when commercial air traffic will start to recover, it will undoubtedly happen and ANSPs must remain ready to cope safely and efficiently with rising demand. It is paramount that Sates provide ANSPs and the ATM critical infrastructure with the required financial support throughout this crisis and during the recovery period. IFATCA believes that stopping training, laying off highly qualified staff and/or implementing irreversible cost-reduction measures will delay the recovery of the aviation industry and should be avoided at all cost.
In Europe, all changes in the ATM industry in the last 20 years have been made under the umbrella of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative. The SES has focused almost exclusively on cost and capacity even though cost-efficiency cannot be the sole objective of a critical infrastructure. This narrow focus has led to a performance scheme that focusses primarily on the ability to balance cost and capacity. While the scheme is managed by the European Commission, airlines have had a huge influence on the scheme, essentially determining how ANSPs are operated and financed.
With a financing system focussed solely on performance, it is not hard to predict that the current crisis will force ANSPs to again look at stopping training, laying off staff, reducing salaries and, in general, taking short-cuts wherever possible to maintain a minimum level of service. Similar measures taken during the 2008 financial crisis, resulted in grid-locked European skies and escalating delays and costs.
While the European Commission and the States are concentrating on how to effectively respond to this crisis, reacting to this threat should not be the sole focus. We must look at this pandemic as a once in a lifetime opportunity. An opportunity to be proactive and anticipate future needs, to evaluate the current mechanisms with a critical eye and to use our experience to avoid repeating past mistakes. Only then will we be able to safeguard the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic in the face of current and future challenges.
IFATCA is calling upon the European States* to:
1. Recognise that the provision of Air Navigation Services is a critical infrastructure which plays a key role in the resolution of crisis situations.
2. Make sure that the provision of Air Navigation Services is financially supported to overcome this crisis and ensure that sufficient essential qualified staff is available when commercial air traffic returns.
3. Stop the Single European Sky performance scheme until the wider implications of this crisis are fully understood and it is possible to evaluate the suitability or not of the scheme going forward.
4. Implement airspace management measures to enable much-needed coherent and coordinated responses to future crises, be it humanitarian, cyber or financial.
We kindly ask you to involve IFATCA and the key operational staff it represents in the decision-making and the work carried out to address this crisis. IFATCA is offering to put the experience of its members to develop and support sound solutions to ensure the sustainability of the Safety, continuity and orderly flow of the ATC services in the European Airspace(s).
Amsterdam, 20 March 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the aviation industry into an unprecedented crisis, and action is needed now to maintain the stability and resilience of the whole aviation system, and to keep our skies safe in the future. CANSO – the association that represents the air traffic management (ATM) industry – strongly urges States to protect air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from financial collapse.
The ATM industry is under severe pressure. ANSP revenues are directly related to the volume of air traffic they control and so they are extremely vulnerable to the dramatic decrease in air traffic currently being experienced across the globe.
“The current crisis has unfortunately hit our airline customers hard, but airlines deferring payment or not paying at all for air navigation services is absolutely not the solution,” said CANSO Director General, Simon Hocquard. “We need to make sure we do not create long term damage to the aviation system and avoid one company’s solution being another’s problem.”
“Unlike the airlines, we cannot suspend operations and lay off a large proportion of our staff,” Simon explained. “We have to continue to keep our operations running safely, to keep our sectors manned in order to ensure the safe transit of aircraft including cargo flights delivering vital medical supplies and food. We cannot close our airspace, we still have flights to manage, albeit at a reduced level. The airlines and society rely on the ANSPs to provide a safe service when the traffic comes back, and so the ANSPs must be kept solvent as well as the airlines.”
As well as keeping their employees healthy and safe, many ANSPs are introducing operational measures aimed at helping the industry as much as possible such as removing constraints to shorten routes and maximise flight efficiency. They are also deploying cost containment measures but a decrease in revenue could significantly impair their ability to safely and seamlessly handle traffic when the volumes inevitably pick up again.
“Air traffic management is a critical part of our national infrastructures and we must protect it. That starts by making sure we do not cut off the essential revenue stream that enables them to provide a vital and safe service today and, in the future.” Simon Hocquard added.
CANSO urges national decision-makers to enable financial support for the ANSPs, airlines, airports, handling agents all of which would help to ensure stability and resilience of the entire aviation industry.
In connection with the declared state of emergency in the country due to the spread of COVID-19, BULATSA cancels the spring session for recruitment of air traffic controllers. The candidates who have already submitted documents will be included in the fall session.
BULATSA started implementing restrictive measures to limit the spread of the virus to the maximum extent possible.
The admission of application documents continues throughout the year and everyone wishing to study at BULATSA Academy can register online through www.bulatsa.com .
Let us be responsible and limit the contacts to the maximum, following the recommendations of the National Operational Headquarters!
BULATSA Director General Georgi Peev signed the Declaration of equal opportunities for women and men in the transport sector in the context of the European Commission’s gender equality strategy.
The Declaration is part of a comprehensive policy of the European Commission to support the realization of women in the field of transport and equal opportunities (Women in Transport – EU Platform for change). The text states that improving the gender balance contributes to diversity in the workplace, has a positive impact on job attractiveness and the competitiveness of the sector.
The declaration calls for promotion of the recruitment and participation of more women in the sector and for exchange of good practices and examples of activities that can be implemented by companies to establish the gender equality principle.
BULATSA Academy opens a spring recruitment campaign for candidates for air traffic controllers. From today until 30 April, everyone wishing to study for the profession can submit documents for the upcoming session. In order to be admitted to participate in the selection, the candidate must be not above 30 years of age, must have a university degree, a minimum degree “bachelor” (regardless of specialty) and good English proficiency – B2. Everyone, who does not have a valid certificate of English proficiency level, will be able to take a free test at the BULATSA centres in the cities of Sofia, Varna and Burgas.
Visitors’ Days to showcase the profession and the training process at the Academy will be held on 16 and 30 March and on 13 April at the BULATSA building. Those who wish to participate must register themselves in the special participation forms HERE
BULATSA Academy is part of the Bulgarian Air Traffic Services Authority – BULATSA, and is the only certified in Bulgaria organization for air traffic controller training, in accordance with the requirements of the European Union and the applicable national legislation. The training of the approved candidates lasts about a year and a half, whereby they are provided with a scholarship. Upon successful completion of the course, the future air traffic controllers will receive a license to practice the profession, that meets the established international standards, and they will be able to start practicing the profession.
A two-day seminar on civil-military cooperation was held at BULATSA on 12 and 13 February. Representatives of Eurocontrol, BULATSA, the Air Force of the Republic of Bulgaria and DG CAA participated in the event.
The purpose of the meeting was to improve the civil-military coordination, unify the positions and clarify the interoperability. Presentations were made by Mladen Kotsov, BULATSA ATM expert, Colonel Hristo Stanev from the Air Force Command, Michael Steinfurt, Head of CMC Civil – Military ATM Coordination Division, Directorate European Civil-Military Aviation, Mariana Angelova and Igor Kuren from the same Directorate and Yordan Iliev – DECMA / Civil Military Coordination Officer.
On 23rd January 2020 in Budapest at HungaroControl’s Annual Partnership Reception, BULATSA was honored with Best Business Partner Award by the Hungarian Air Traffic Services Provider. The award recognizes the successful completion of the SEE FRA (South-East Free Route Airspace) project for implementing 24/7 cross border free route operations across the airspace of three states: Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.
Since 7th of November 2019 the Aircraft Operators can plan their flights freely across the airspace of of the three countries 24/7 without the limitations of the geographical boundaries.
ROMATSA, a long-term established BULATSA partner in the DANUBE FAB and in the SEE FRA, also received the HungaroControl Best Business Partner award.
Mr. Kornel Szepessy, HungaroControl CEO, said: “This joint success represents a commitment to a common vision and an unwavering commitment to collaborate. I trust the strong collaborative relationship between BULATSA and HungaroControl will continue in the future and further cooperation will be realized to serve our common interests. “
Mr. Veselin Stoyanov, BULATSA Director European Programmes, Projects and Strategies, added: “BULATSA is extremely honored to receive this recognition. We strive to be a solid and trustworthy partner and we are looking forward to enhancing the cooperation between HungaroControl and BULATSA so that we can ultimately bring added value to the European ATM network. “
The activities related to SEE FRA and national FRA projects are in accordance with Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2014 which provides for the individual ANSPs to cooperate for the introduction of Free Route Airspace above FL310 throughout Europe by the end of 2021.
The rock legend Bruce Dickinson is the first to be honored with the Inspiring Eagle Award of BULATSA, set up to mark the company’s 50th anniversary.
The Iron Maiden frontman is in Bulgaria to present his autobiography book. He visited BULATSA at the invitation of the Director General Georgi Peev and met with Bulgarian air traffic controllers.
The world musician is also an airplane pilot and a captain, as well as an aviation entrepreneur. It was because of his inspiration and contribution to aviation that he received the BULATSA’s distinguished award and his showing up in the operations room made the air traffic controllers happy.