Initiative would improve domestic flight services

Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar's calls on the fellow European Union leaders to push ahead with plans to introduce the United European Union Airspace by 2004 will not only improve safety in the congested skies above Europe and reduce air delays, but also revolutionise domestic flight services. A united European Airspace will pave the way for European Union airlines to operate domestic services in other member states which will create a vastly more competitive market and provide consumers with better services and value for money. Three years ago, as Britain's leading no-frills airline easyJet started to expand its operations across Europe and plan for greater services to Spain's main airports, the company revealed that one of its long-term aims was to eventually start linking up all its airports and then move in to new domestic markets. Spain, where the domestic airline market is constantly under attack from consumers for either delays, cancellations or high prices, was one of the target markets and if Blair and Aznar can bring about the introduction of a united airspace by 2004, the move could revolutionise domestic flights. The single sky proposal will also be topping the agenda at a meeting of the European Association of Airlines in Madrid this weekend. Recently Eurocontrol published a report giving its views of how European air traffic should be organised and most of the recommendations concerning the eradication of delays came as a strong endorsement to the single sky plan. The airline industry has been pressing for the single European sky for the past ten years with the overall belief being that a single sky will help to make the airline industry more efficient. At the moment there are 65 air traffic control centres in the EU, operating with 31 different systems, 22 different computer operating systems, 33 different computer languages by 18 manufacturers which all provide extra and unnecessary problems. A single sky will mean a more integrated system with joint air traffic services in control which in turn, the airline industry is adamant, will provide a better and safer service for passengers.

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