Spain will assume up to 160 more flights a day in its airspace this summer to avoid ‘collapse’ in Europe

Some 1,000 flights will be taken every day from central Europe and the workload may lead to some regulation

Spain will assume between 150 and 160 more flybys a day this summer in its airspace to help alleviate the air traffic problems in Europe, with the aim of relieving the “big delays”, which are currently very centralized in France and Germany, on all in the air traffic control centers (ATM) of Marseille (France) and Karlsruhe (Germany), as well as in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, with many flights and also suffer from “lack of controllers so they can not offer all the capacity they would have. ”

This is one of the measures that will be applied this summer, according to Eurocontrol, to avoid the occurrence of what in technical terms is called a ‘collapse’. “If last year was bad, if we do nothing, this year will be almost collapse in technical terms, so every day will be removed from the order of 1,000 flights that would have to fly over the center of Europe,” explained Europa Press in ENAIRE sources.

“The consequence of this – they acknowledge – is that it congests countries that are not as full as others, Spain will help decongest France and Germany, but at the cost of taking a few more flights.” In this way, a plane flying from Norway to Greece flying over Paris and Marseille will be forced to make another flight plan “with a little more curve” in its path to avoid that area.

With this, it is wanted to avoid that the companies that have to fly over the Europe center suffer a delay of one hour or an hour and a half. “Instead of this delay of an hour and a half, the flight will be punctual or with very little delay, but with more travel”, point from the control provider. They will not have the option to choose between flying longer and consuming more fuel or leaving later.

In addition, a subsequent analysis will be carried out in which the minutes of delay will be assigned to the country that has been helped assuming flights that had to fly over the airspace and not to Spain. “You will know very well, and day by day, the delay generated by each provider if it is a consequence of the traffic you already had or of additional traffic,” insist from ENAIRE.

Studies have already been carried out that show that those extra miles flown will mean “five or ten minutes at the most”, taking into account that one minute of flight means a cost of 100 euros more or less depending on the type of aircraft. A cost, these sources point out, that it would rise for companies if the plane leaves late due to the indeminizations to passengers, the lack of quality of the service or if the traveler loses his connecting flight.

And the fact is that the rapid growth of air traffic in Spain and throughout Europe makes it necessary to measure the European airspace, with changes in staff and procedures, in order to absorb so many flights. But making large changes in airspace is a slower process – it takes about two or three years – than the rate at which air demand increases in Europe. By 2035, it will have doubled to 8.7 billion passengers worldwide, according to data from the World Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


From the control provider assure that receiving additional overflights will not have an effect on the ground and at airports, although they recognize that it may be necessary to “apply some regulation” in the operations derived from a greater workload as a result of those flights.

“More drivers than we had planned, we can not put in summer, because to train a driver it takes two to three years, it was planned to put many drivers but to absorb the growth of traffic in Spain,” these sources add. ENAIRE, within its capacity and efficiency plan, is already incorporating new drivers in training since last year.


Regarding the delays suffered in Madrid-Barajas due to the closure of one of its tracks by works, the control provider acknowledges that “there was a little uncertainty about whether to make changes in its configuration” in the first weekend of March the wind also did not allow to play with the two configurations of the airport but it was seen “the bad effect of not doing it” and from Monday they began to alternate the configuration.

In Barajas the north configuration is the priority, while the south can only be used when there is a wind greater than 10 knots in the queue, in addition to respecting the environmental restrictions by the noise footprint. When the wind allows it, the configuration is changed, to the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), aeronautical information manual that contemplates that the southern configuration can be used with an inoperative track.

“As there is a track inoperative, whenever the wind allows it, we try to use the configuration that makes it possible to absorb the demand better.” In the north configuration, we use one runway for landings and two for takeoffs if there are many, and when we pass to the south, we use two to land and one to take off what goes well when there are many arribadas “, explain the same sources.

Another of the measures applied these days in Barajas is to move faster the planes that take off from the initial route to be able to get the traffic faster. With the north configuration, the Madrid airport has a capacity of two runways of 54 departures per hour and 48 landings, and with the southern configuration is between 30 and 35 with a runway, which limits the operations with the most large because the turbulent wake they generate is greater. “If everyone was medium, every minute we take a plane, but when there is a big one the next one has to wait two minutes, so depending on how many of this type there are 40 flights in an hour and more than 48 land with two tracks” , they point.

“We are doing a good job, making flexible configuration changes very dynamic, whenever we can and the companies are thanking it, it is true that the first days were a bit problematic but already very good”, the same sources conclude.