July 10, 2019 / 4:06 PM / 6 days ago

Europe airlines brace for another summer of air traffic delays

BRUSSELS, July 10 (Reuters) - European air passengers face another torrid summer of air traffic delays due to a combination of staff shortages, regulatory logjams and perennial strikes, airlines warned on Wednesday.

The head of British Airways owner IAG, Willie Walsh, said delays were increasing carbon emissions, while Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary bemoaned what he called the “lamentable failure of (controllers) to turn up to work”.

Airline bosses were speaking at a briefing of lobby group A4E (Airlines for Europe), which called on the incoming European Commission to speed up the delayed Single European Sky project, intended to remove airspace borders and allow shorter routings.

“Air traffic management is still dysfunctional in the EU,” A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said.

Between January and June 2019 the number of minutes of flying delays were up 114% compared to 2017, the group said in a statement.

Fixing the continent’s air traffic control system would immediately reduce carbon emissions from the industry in Europe by 10%, the group said.

The group also took aim at new environmental ticket taxes that they say disproportionately target the aviation sector and the proceeds of which, they argue, are not used to help the environment.

“We are paying on behalf of our customers a penal level of aviation taxes and these taxes continue to rise,” O’Leary said, adding that the taxes unfairly damaged the competitiveness on peripheral European islands like Ireland.

Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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