Seasonal European Air Traffic Challenges
Preparing for European operations involves many aspects with parking and runway slot availability being most common. Traffic management needs to be of higher importance on the list of things to consider over the next few months of peak travel. This article looks at some of the potential Air Traffic Control (ATC) impacts and airport limitations for your European flights.
Strikes in France are here, and this pattern will most likely continue throughout much of the summer months. Normally French strikes are planned out several days in advance to mitigate some of the impact; however, depending on traffic loads and how many ATC staff personnel arrive for work the strike can still be disruptive with extensive delays. French strikes normally begin at 18z and end at 04z two days later.
Strikes in Italy are impactful; however, they are normally of short duration and are announced well in advance.
The strikes planned for Portugal during the month of June have been called off, but monitoring for future events needs to continue.
Look for the possibility of strikes in Spain as well, but no official strike dates have been announced.
MILITARY ACTIVE AREAS
A large military exercise will take place over much of Germany from 12 to 22 June, excluding weekends. Temporary closure of airspace and rerouting of traffic flows is very likely. This exercise will overlap with a large North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military exercise as well. NATO’s, BALTOPS 23, exercise and a French military exercise, KRYPTON 23, will be occurring at similar times as the German exercise. One should anticipate advance planning to manage the inevitable associated delays. EUROCONTROL is mentioning these events as high impact events.
The rest of the planned military exercises will have no or minimal impacts to traffic flow.
During the quieter winter months, a typical day in EUROCONTROL airspace which encompasses the geographic area from Israel to Norway and Ireland to the Canary Islands would have around 23,000 flights per day. Lately the daily average is 31,000 with expectations of 34,000 flights on Fridays beginning in early June. This volume of traffic is expected to continue for the rest of the summer. This is an 8% increase in traffic vs 2022. Bottlenecks and high overloads are expected in the following sectors due to capacity limitations without taking into consideration any thunderstorm activity which can be troublesome during the afternoon and into evening hours, even if modest in aerial coverage or intensity. Airspace sectors with expected high overloads include: Northeast France, Southeast France, Central Germany, Greece, and Macedonia. These overloaded sectors will put pressure on nearby areas including Brussels, Zagreb, Nicosia, Bremen, Langen, Budapest, Casablanca, Skopje, Warsaw, Madrid, and London.
Most airports are managing operations well, while a small number have announced possible challenges due to resourcing issues putting strains on capacity. Overnight limitations will continue at London/EGGW and London/EGSS into the summer and early fall months. Parking in several airports in Italy, Portugal, and Greece one can expect to be a challenge like previous years. Copenhagen/EKCH continues to have regulations due to ATC capacity resulting in low to moderate delays daily. Special events such as the F1 race in Austria, Paris Air show, UEFA Champions League Final, F1 Grand Prix Silverstone, Wimbledon, and more will create pressure on nearby airports resulting in delays.
Below are a few charts showing expected traffic loads for a few periods this summer.
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