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COMPAIR Report Summary

Project ID: 699249
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COMPAIR (COMPetition for AIR traffic management)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The COMPAIR project starts from the observation that air transport is facing many challenges such as increasing demand, larger airports, increased network congestion which also need to be reconciled with environmental issues. Hence there is a need for smarter solutions at service, operational and technical levels. One of the important actors in the aviation supply chain are the Air Traffic Management (ATM) service providers.
Since 2004, the European Union has invested in research and development in the area of ATM. The main objective of the EU is to reform the European ATM system in order to cope with sustained air traffic growth under safe, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly conditions. The Single European Sky (SES) initiative aims to re-structure the European airspace as a function of air traffic flows, create additional capacity and increase the overall efficiency of the ATM system. The European Commission set ambitious goals for the SES in 2013 to be achieved by 2020, including a 3-fold increase in airspace capacity and a cost reduction of at least 50% in the provision of ATM services.
However, today’s progress towards SES objectives is perceived as slow: the steps taken towards enhanced collaboration between various air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are sometimes considered ineffective, the implementation of functional airspace blocks (FABs) to defragment the European landscape of national ANSPs and enable economies of scale has had limited success, and the Research & Innovation cycle is still too long. In this context, the question of how to provide the appropriate organizational structures, institutions and incentives for new operational concepts and technologies to yield the expected results stands high on the European policy agenda. The introduction of competition has been proposed as a means to provide incentives for the realization of the high-level objectives of the SES, by speeding up the innovation cycle and the fostering of more efficient operations. On the other hand, competition does not prevent every market failure (e.g. negative externalities) and, depending on market conditions, liberalization can also have undesired outcomes, such as the emergence of oligopolies or monopolies. Besides, competition does not exist abstractly and is influenced by the legal and regulatory framework. Hence, the successful introduction of competition requires a comprehensive impact analysis to evaluate different regulatory approaches along a variety of dimensions.
The main research question of COMPAIR is “how to introduce competitive incentives in the ATM sector so as to best contribute to the achievement of the European high-level policy objectives for aviation.” In reply to this, the project will pursue the following objectives:
1. propose a set of new institutional market designs for the introduction of competition in the European ATM sector;
2. define a framework allowing a comprehensive assessment of the impact of different institutional market designs on ATM stakeholders and society at large;
3. develop a variety of economic and network models for the evaluation of the proposed regulatory approaches along the dimensions identified as relevant in the assessment framework;
4. assess the feasibility and acceptability of proposed institutional changes for various market actors;
5. propose a vision and derive policy recommendations for the implementation of those new institutional structures identified as most beneficial for the European ATM system.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This technical report covers the work done in the first half year of the project (1 February 2016-31 July 2016). At this stage of the project work focused on producing some of the necessary administrative deliverables, fine-tuning the scope of the project and developing a common base for the modelling approaches further on in the project.

With respect to the more administrative deliverables, the project produced
- the project management (D1.1) and dissemination plan (D6.2)
- six ethical deliverables (D7.1 to D7.6)
- a project dedicated website ( and social media accounts (D6.1).
These deliverables will guide the Consortium throughout the project.

At the same time the scope of the project was fine-tuned in D2.2. At the start of the project we identified some concepts to be further analysed:
- Regulatory approach using yardstick competition.
- Auctioning approach using tenders to license air navigation services within a certain charging zone.
- Unbundling of central infrastructure management tasks from service provision tasks.
- Sector-less based operations where trajectories are managed per origin-destination.
Based on a literature review, discussions with the Advisory Board, interviews and an online survey, these concepts were fine-tuned and qualitatively assessed.
Overall, we concluded that we do not expect any dramatic performance impacts for the regulatory approach. On the other hand, the implementation of any proposed changes may be immediately feasible in the short term and involves relatively low costs. Hence, it is still an interesting option to further include in our analysis. Sector-less based operations, on the other hand, could have strong and positive impacts but still faces significant challenges from the technical and implementation perspective. For instance, safety concerns remains as a substantive barrier to the success of such an approach are not out of the picture for the moment. Unbundling seems rather promising as it does not face any challenges that are difficult to overcome. Many ATM experts and sector stakeholders also consider this option as the most attractive for introducing elements of competition in the provision of ATM activities. Moreover, it has been relatively successful in other sectors. For the licensing of air navigation services, in contrast, political acceptability and social tensions are probably the main barriers. It is also not clear if within this option ANSPs will have an incentive to behave cooperatively if they need to collaborate in certain areas (increased information sharing) and compete in others (for ATS licenses).
These concepts will be further assessed using multiple modelling approaches. In order to optimize the comparability of the modelling work, the consortium also agreed on common modelling guidelines (D3.1) and an integrated assessment framework (D2.2). The set of common modelling guidelines will ensure that differences between modelling outcomes are driven by the institutional designs studied and not by differences in model inputs. Guidelines address the model inputs: modelling horizon, the assumptions underlying the models, the sources for input data and the consistency between data and indicators used. The assessment framework will allow the evaluation of the different institutional designs proposed by COMPAIR in a consistent and comparable manner throughout the entire project. The assessment framework will be an input for the specification of the outputs of the COMPAIR models. This will ensure that the same indicators are defined in a consistent manner across the different models, so that we can benefit from the synergies and complementarities between such models.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The main goal of the COMPAIR project is to increase insight into potential institutional and market structures that may lead to an uptake of new technologies and more performance based business models. The expected impact of changing the institutional form in the ATM sector is vast. We expect beneficial effects on:
• increased uptake of technologies,
• improved cost-efficiency of ATM services,
• better management of ATC capacity and
• more efficient flight routes and hence decreased emissions.
These effects will likely lead to lower prices and waiting time for passengers, the ultimate end-users of air traffic services for civil aviation.
At this stage of the project, the main work – the modelling and assessment of the potential impacts - still needs to be performed. The first qualitative assessment however already provides some insights and lessons learned from other industries.

Related information

Record Number: 194963 / Last updated on: 2017-02-17
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