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Air Traffic Management (ATM) is a set of services which every State must provide for the safe and efficient operation of air traffic. Today, it is almost entirely financed by user fees according to the “user pays” principle. Until today, the “user” has always been assumed to be the airspace user, normally an airline. This system comes under pressure today: current Single European Sky (SES) regulation is built on the assumption that air traffic in Europe continuously increases. Thus, the financing of ATM would be secured by increasing revenue due to higher traffic volumes.

Technological progress and efficiency gains should lead to reduced cost and lower environmental footprint of aviation while increasing safety and capacity. Two crises – the financial and banking crisis of 2008 and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic – show that the assumptions of this regulatory framework are wrong. Additionally, there is the question of who the actual “users” are. Does ATM only serve paying airlines, or are there some services which are provided in the public interest?

Turning the wheel back and promoting a full cost recovery financing model would be contrary to the logic of regulating monopolistic infrastructure providers. But it is a fact that recent events raise the question as to whether the current financing model, which is ultimately market based, is still adequate.

With the pressure to increase the efficiency of the SES for environmental reasons, one may wonder whether some baseline public financing for the critical infrastructure portion of the ATM – which could be different from country to country – could not mean a step towards a better charging scheme and therefore a step towards the leading ideas behind the SES and the European Green Deal.

In light of the above, the 19th Florence Air Forum will be answering the following questions:

  1. What have we learnt from COVID-19 about ATM financing? Is there a threshold below which ANSPs can be financially supported?
  2. How are ATM services to actors delivering services in the general interest being financed? How are these financed in other network industries?
  3. Could part of ATM be financed publicly and if so under what conditions?
  4. Is there a need for a change in approach?

This would lead to four sessions spread over two days (27th and 28th March 2023), which should be preceded by an introduction about the shortcomings of current financing. In a concluding session we could design the way forward.

Please kindly note that participation at this Forum is by invitation only.


Matthias Finger – FSR Transport

Alexander Holzrichter – Lufthansa Group

Raine Luojus – Fintraffic ANS

Jan Klas – ANS Czech Republic

Denis Bouvier – SES Performance Review Body

Patricia Nieto Valiente – ESA, Spain

Kalliopi Lykou – Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority

Alex Bristol – Skyguide

Arndt Schoenemann – DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung

Achim Baumann – Airlines for Europe – A4E

Eric De Vries – Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management

Igor Pirc – Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation FOCA

Villa Schifanoia – Sala Europa
Via Boccaccio, 121
Florence, 50133 Italy

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