With the COVID-19 pandemic plunging the global aviation industry into an unprecedented crisis, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) has urged urged governments to protect air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from financial collapse.

“The current crisis has unfortunately hit our airline customers hard, but airlines deferring payment or not paying at all for air navigation services is absolutely not the solution,” said CANSO Director General, Simon Hocquard.

ANSP revenues are directly related to the volume of air traffic they control, so the air traffic management (ATM) industry is under severe pressure and is extremely vulnerable to the dramatic decrease in air traffic currently being experienced across the globe. “We need to make sure we do not create long term damage to the aviation system and avoid one company’s solution being another’s problem,” Hocquard continued.

Explaining that suspending operations and laying off a large proportion of staff is simply not an option, he added: “We have to continue to keep our operations running safely, to keep our sectors manned in order to ensure the safe transit of aircraft including cargo flights delivering vital medical supplies and food. We cannot close our airspace, we still have flights to manage, albeit at a reduced level. The airlines and society rely on the ANSPs to provide a safe service when the traffic comes back, and so the ANSPs must be kept solvent as well as the airlines.”

While the wellbeing of air traffic control teams is of paramount importance, many ANSPs have already introduced operational measures aimed at helping the industry as much as possible. These measures include removing constraints to shorten routes and maximise flight efficiency. They are also deploying cost containment measures but a decrease in revenue could significantly impair their ability to handle traffic safely and seamlessly when volumes pick up once again.

To ensure the industry to continue on both a resilient and sustainable path CANSO is calling on decision-makers and those in positions of authority to enable financial support for all industry stakeholders including ANSPs, airlines, airports and handling agents .

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