DFS sees air traffic movement growth in Germany slowing

In 2011, air traffic volume in Germany rose to 3,060,255 aircraft movements, an increase of approximately three percent over the previous year. This figure is significantly lower than predicted, the original forecast being 4.8 percent.

The figures show that flights within Germany even recorded an all-time low when viewed over the last decade.

Air traffic controllers of DFS controlled 376,400 domestic flights - almost 20 percent fewer than ten years ago. This corresponds to 12.3 percent of the total air traffic volume compared with 18.3 percent in the year 2001. The ecological goal of avoiding short-haul flights within Germany is thereby being achieved more and more.

The overall economic situation, the high oil price, and the debt crisis in Europe are currently having a significant negative impact on air traffic. In the middle of 2011, growth started to stagnate, and since October, the air traffic volume has decreased. There has even been a 4.1 percent decline over the prior-year period. "Capacity and punctuality, however, have significantly improved," commented DFS CEO Dieter Kaden.

The Aircraft Proximity Evaluation Group (APEG), an independent group of experts, has so far been able to evaluate 18 out of a total of 22 incidents reported in German airspace. Four cases have not been assessed yet. Of these 18 cases, the APEG classified only three as Category A (immediate risk). One case was classified as Category B (safety not assured).

None of the cases investigated so far by the APEG was caused by DFS. In all other cases under investigation, safety was not compromised. "It can be said that German airspace is one of the safest in the world," stated Mr Kaden. Punctuality also significantly improved again last year. In 2011, flights in Germany recorded a delay related to the air navigation services of 0.86 minutes on average. In 2010, this delay had amounted to 1.37 minutes per flight. Last year, DFS air traffic controllers guided almost 95 percent of all aircraft on direct routes without re-routings or holdings.

As of 1 January 2012, economic regulation was introduced at DFS, meaning that the principle of full cost recovery no longer applies. Air traffic control charges are set by the EU for a period of three years, while, at the same time, key performance indicators are defined. These indicators refer to the performance areas of safety, environment, capacity and cost-efficiency.

DFS is thereby forced to cut costs by 180 million Euro over the next three years. The cost-cutting programme “Heading 2012” aims to reduce staff and other operating costs in the administrative area. In the operational area, DFS continues its efforts to train 180 secondary school leavers per year to become air traffic controllers.

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