New deal between EU institutions aims to make flying cleaner and safer

Martin Banks
Paris Cityscape View from Airplane Window

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), After a decade of negotiations MEPs and the Belgian presidency of the Council, have agreed on new EU rules to optimize flight routes, reduce flight delays and cut CO2 emissions.

A provisional agreement has been reached between Parliament, led by its two rapporteurs, and Council negotiators on the reform of the so-called Single European Sky rules.

The agreed text introduces performance plans for air navigation services to improve network management of EU airspace, with binding targets and incentives to make flights more efficient and environmentally friendly.

MEPs secured in the negotiations provisions to make air navigation services and network management contribute to climate neutrality.

Under the new rules, the Commission will adopt EU performance targets on capacity, cost efficiency, climate, and environmental factors for air navigation services.

The performance of these services against these targets would be reviewed at least every three years.

Under the deal, the Commission will have to conduct a study to help define how charges levied on airspace users (airlines or private plane operators) for the provision of air navigation services could encourage them to be more environmentally friendly, for example by using the most fuel-efficient available routing or alternative clean propulsion technologies.

Parliament’s rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, Romania) said: “The deal signifies a shift towards efficiency and sustainability in air traffic management.”

The MEP told this site, “The current nationalistic airspace architecture hampers progress, leading to longer flights, increased emissions, and unnecessary costs.

“It’s high time to finally prioritize efficiency over nationalism, to pave the way for safer, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly air travels in Europe.”

The deal on Single European Sky still needs to be approved by EU member state representatives and Parliament’s Transport and Tourism committee, and then the Parliament and Council as a whole.

Meanwhile, the airline Emirates says it has commenced the activation of its fuel agreement with Neste this month at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Over 2 million gallons of blended Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) will be supplied into the fuelling system at Schiphol throughout 2024. The airline will track the delivery of SAF into the fuelling systems and environmental benefits using standard industry accounting methodologies.

The partnership, announced late last year, represents one of the largest volumes of SAF that the airline has purchased to date. Once fully supplied into Schiphol’s fuelling system, the blended SAF will have been comprised of over 700,000 gallons of neat SAF. The airline is also working with Nestle to supply SAF with the fuelling systems at Singapore Changi Airport in the next few months.

Commenting, Adel Al Redha, Deputy President and Chief Operations Officer, Emirates said: “Collaborating with committed partners like Neste is one of the practical steps we are taking to reduce our emissions, and it’s an all-important milestone in our sustainability journey as an airline. Strong partnerships like this, especially at major air transport hubs such as Amsterdam, lay the foundation for how we can work with partners and airports to increase access to and availability of SAF across our network.”

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Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
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Martin Banks is an experienced British-born journalist who has been covering the EU beat (and much else besides) in Brussels since 2001. Previously, he had worked for many years in regional journalism in the UK and freelanced for national titles. He has a keen interest in foreign affairs and has closely followed the workings of the European Parliament and MEPs in particular for some years.