Environmental performance and targets

Horizontal en route flight efficiency

The total additional distance flown in 2017 within the SES area was 222.8 million kilometres, which resulted in approximately 3 million tonnes of additional CO2 emissions. The SES Performance Scheme includes two binding targets at the EU level for 2019 set at 4.1% for the en route flight inefficiency of the last filed flight plan (KEP) and 2.6% for the actual trajectory (KEA).

Figure 4.2 shows that KEA decreased to 2.81% and is on track to reach the target by 2019. This is largely due to the simplification of the airway structure in the en route airspace, thereby moving towards a free route airspace (see Section 4.4). KEP decreased from 4.91% in 2016 to 4.73% in 2017. This improvement was due to better flight planning and the reduction of unnecessary route restrictions (e.g. military areas). It is expected that most of the European airspace would have implemented free route airspace by 2019. Consequently, there may be limited scope for further reduction beyond the 2.6% target.

Airport operational efficiency

While the average additional Arrival Sequencing and Metering Area (ASMA) time is about 1.24 minutes per arrival in 2017, significant variations can be seen at an airport level (Figure 4.3). In 2017, inefficiencies in the arrival flow at the top 30 airports resulted in 8.33 million minutes of additional ASMA time. The main contributor being London Heathrow, which accounted for 23% of the total minutes, while its traffic share was less than 6%. This is a consequence of the mode of operations at Heathrow, which prioritises full use of runway capacity.

In comparison to the additional ASMA time, the average additional taxi-out time per departure improved slightly at the 30 busiest airports in the SES area from 3.82 minutes in 2016 to 3.77 minutes in 2017, with some variation at an airport level (Figure 4.4). Waiting in a queue for take-off generates unnecessary CO2 emissions and unpredictability.

The implementation of departure manager, in combination with the integration of Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) systems, aims to improve the departure sequencing. This provides optimised taxi-time, and improves predictability of take-off times, by monitoring surface traffic. However, this effect is not always fully visible as some A-CDM implemented airports (Figure 4.9) show similar taxi-out performance as non A-CDM airports. Arrival Management (AMAN) now extends into en route airspace as far as 180-200 nautical miles from the arrival airport, and should support better traffic sequencing.

Figure 4.513 illustrates the trend over time of the average additional ASMA and taxi-out times for the busiest airports in the SES area. Note that the sets of airports changed between the 2012-2014 and 2015-2017 periods, and are therefore presented separately.


13 The disconnect in the trend line is due to a change in criteria for ‘ASMA’ airports between Reference Period 1 (RP1 - 2012 to 2014) and Reference Period 2 (RP2 - 2015 to 2019).