From the beginning of April, the aviation industry is expecting a significant rise in the volume of traffic from holiday flights throughout European airspace. As a result of the introduction of a new air traffic control system in France, air traffic is being diverted to Germany. Together with the changed traffic situation in Europe due to the war in Ukraine, this will mean German airspace will experience heavy use.
After the huge slump in traffic volumes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the aviation industry is expecting a significant upturn in volumes throughout European airspace for the summer timetable starting at the beginning of April. DFS, the German air navigation service provider, is well positioned for this despite the pandemic-related training problems.
However, the air traffic controllers in the control centres of DFS are facing an extra influx of traffic. At the beginning of April, the French air navigation service provider DSNA will install a new air traffic control system at its control centre in Reims (northern France). As is usual with any system introduction, the first step involves working with lower traffic volumes. In a joint initiative with the DSNA and EUROCONTROL's Network Manager, the partners have been planning the necessary diversion of traffic flows for months. A large proportion of the traffic will be shifted to German airspace.
Staff problems at the Polish air navigation service provider PANSA represent another issue. DFS therefore expects that additional flights might be shifted to German airspace from this source, too.
Together with the broad-scale shift of traffic flows due to the war in Ukraine and the extensive closure of Russian airspace, the overall result is an extremely high utilisation of German airspace. As a consequence of this challenging situation, flight delays are likely to be unavoidable in some areas of German airspace in the coming months. "Our aim is to keep these delays to a minimum," said Dirk Mahns, Chief Operating Officer on the DFS Executive Board. "We are in close contact with our European partners in this endeavour. No country can deal with the current traffic situation on its own; it can only be done together."
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DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,600 employees as at 31 December 2021. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,200 air traffic controllers guide more than three million flights through German airspace in peak years, up to 10,000 every day. The company operates control centres in Bremen, Karlsruhe, Langen and Munich as well as control towers at the 15 designated international airports in Germany. The subsidiary DFS Aviation Services GmbH markets and sells products and services related to air navigation services, and provides air traffic control at nine regional airports in Germany and at London Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport in the UK. DFS is working on the integration of drones into air traffic and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom. Other subsidiaries include R. Eisenschmidt GmbH, which markets publications and products for general aviation, and Kaufbeuren ATM Training GmbH (KAT), which provides training for military air traffic services personnel. The joint venture FCS Flight Calibration Services GmbH offers flight inspection services.