Board of Airline Representatives In the Netherlands

<< Back to publications index

ATN Interview with Paul Riemens, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of LVNL, and Chairman of CANSO

Air Transport News 21 Mar.14


ATN: As Chairman of CANSO, what do you expect to be the outcome of the ATM Congress?
PR: I am pleased that World ATM Congress 2014 has proved to be even bigger and better than the inaugural Congress in 2013.
A strong conference programme addressed the key challenges facing ATM and some of the hot issues of the day, including: implementation of ICAO’s Aviation System Block Upgrades, efficient regulation, how to deliver on performance to meet the airlines’ requirements and how best to incorporate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into airspace. The theme of ‘Delivering the Future’ said it all: 2013 was about defining the vision and setting the targets, 2014 is about delivery.

CANSO fulfilled its promise to report back on these commitments at World ATM Congress 2014 and published a full report on 3 March, providing an update on progress. The report highlights CANSO’s focus on delivery and I am pleased with the progress thus far, but much remains to be achieved on medium and longer term issues. Many of the commitments require the support of industry partners and States and we continue to work effectively with them.

ATN: How can you influence or push EU as Chairman of CANSO and CEO of LVNL for the implementation of Single European Sky?
PR: CANSO is firmly established as the global voice of ATM. As CANSO Chairman, I can convey strong messages to the European Union, governments and regulators that in order to improve capacity and efficiency, airspace needs to be organized, and air navigation services need to be delivered, in line with the operational requirements of airspace users, rather than according to national borders. This is an important principle, not only in Europe but also globally. The aviation business transcends national boundaries and requires to tear down any barriers to global harmonization.

As CEO of LVNL it is the performance of our organization which is our license to influence in the EU. We are known as a progressive organization with a good product for a fair price.

ATN: Can you quantify the benefits of FABEC so far?
PR: FABs are a crucial tool of the European Commission to improve performance in the area of safety, capacity and efficiency. The FABEC programme aims to put in place a more efficient air traffic management in the core area of Europe. We have worked for years, days of long conference sessions with people who all see and agree on the need. In spite of this, the formation of FABEC in all those years is hardly advanced. The costs of all our efforts and the investments are not cashed.

It is therefore time to progress from the present ‘one State – one ANSP’ model and to look into more efficient ways to service provision. We can see one example of this in Europe where there is not just a reluctance to cede ‘political’ control over airspace but also to the revenues generated from using this airspace. In Europe establishing really efficient FABs could mean a loss of revenues for some States due to a reorganization of airspace and route structures. This would lead to changes in control sectors and consequently in ATCO staff. This creates social issues, which States want to avoid.

Many States like the status quo. They see aviation as a fully self-financed mode of transport which they do not want to touch. The solution is finding the political commitment to progress.

On the other hand I must say that the current legislation in combination with the performance targets gives us, ANSPs, no incentive to change. On the contrary, if we implement airspace changes for the benefit of our stakeholders we even receive less income.
So it is not easy to quantify the benefits of FABEC. However the lack of progress within FABEC have made me think of other forms of cooperation and partnership. At least FABEC has given me the network to develop these kind of co-operations.

ATN: What will be the impact of LVNL when Single European Sky will become reality?
PR: With or without SES, optimization of our airspace is required to ensure competitiveness of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. All Dutch aviation stakeholders jointly invest in a future for the Dutch aviation and therefore in the national economy. It is a fact that aviation is shifting from the west to the east. With further optimization of the use of the Dutch airspace we remain internationally competitive.

However if I take this a step forward I realize that stagnation of SES offers opportunities to other regions not too far away from Europe and poses a real danger to European aviation. Turkey, countries in the Middle East and Asia, do not have the complexity as Europe. The competition with transfer airports as Istanbul and Dubai increases and can be seen as a threat to Europe but also to Schiphol as such. For the Netherlands it would be in macro-economic respect disastrous if our pivotal function between East and West cannot be saved. We need to consolidate in Europe, otherwise we will lose the competition with other parts of the world in which power and volume are increasing day by day.

Although it is a sensitive subject, I plea for more market and competition between air traffic control organizations. We can learn a lot from the success of the deregulation in airlines decades ago, because it has led to a safer, more efficient and cheaper product.
Having said this, the implementation of SES will certainly have an impact on LVNL as it is today. However by the entrepreneurship the Dutch are known for, LVNL will stay to exist either via partnerships or other types of organization.

ATN: Is the current infrastructure and training capability sufficient for ATM? How LVNL can contribute to closer cooperation between airlines, airports, governments and ATC?
PR: We are progressive and we try to find ways to invest in horizontal partnerships inside and outside FABEC. The horizontal type of integration amongst ANSPs is important to harmonize the way we work. As stated before I see that political barriers slow down the horizontal integration process. To move forward we also need vertical integration like for example the cooperation between Boeing, KLM, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and LVNL. I believe that vertical integration can overcome the barriers that we experience in the European horizontal integration.

ATN: What is the next big thing in ATM?
PR: Aviation is a rapidly changing industry; technology, business models and the operating environment are all changing.
I would like to focus on three ‘big things’ that will have a game-changing impact on our industry: automation, new business models and information management.

First, automation will be the big technological game-changer in the next few years. Aircrafts have had automation for the past thirty years but ATM has just started that journey. We will see more machine-to-machine interaction with data exchanged directly between the airborne and ground systems, enabling us to fly planes closer together and build capacity.

Secondly, Air Navigation Services are still operating on the basis of a business model that was developed a long time ago. This concept will be redefined. New business models will change the way we work. In near the future more and more ANSPs will be privatised which is key to create the necessary competitive pressure and market force.

The third big area is in information management. At the moment we are all sharing real time information but the various technical platforms do not speak to each other. Open systems, such as SWIM (system wide information management), where we are working with partners to develop common standards, will be able to provide any information, anytime, anywhere to the right user or system.

ATN: What are CANSO priorities for the next years under your leadership?
PR: CANSO’s over-riding priority is to continue delivering the steps needed to achieve our Vision of transforming global ATM performance, enabling airlines to fly in seamless airspace globally. Vision 2020 is CANSO’s strategic framework for delivering this and is very much our focus. The CANSO Work Plan outlines 126 supporting activities planned at global and regional level, each with detailed actions, deliverables and timescales. This is the roadmap to guide our work this year and in the years to come. I would also like to touch on two important priorities that will help us deliver seamless airspace globally: the first is the implementation of ICAO’s ASBUs and the second is the role of States.

In November 2013, the ICAO General Assembly adopted the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP), which provides the framework to ensure a safe and globally harmonised aviation system over the next fifteen years. GANP will act as a catalyst toward achieving seamless airspace globally. It sets out the path to the aviation system block upgrades, or ASBUs, which give us a roadmap for implementation. CANSO has wasted no time, working with States and partners, to focus on implementation. We have recently launched a comprehensive guide to ASBU implementation and an accompanying training programme.

Around the globe, CANSO and its Members are working with industry partners on initiatives, which come under the ASBU umbrella. These include issues such as: service priority, the roll-out of performance-based navigation, continuous climb and descent operations, airport-collaborative decision making and air traffic flow management. These, and other initiatives, will help us take steps towards our vision of achieving seamless airspace globally

There are three specific areas, where States have the capability to make a difference:
-Better regulation that drives performance positively rather than being complex and too prescriptive;
-Allowing ANSPs to operate like normal businesses with a focus on the customer, performance targets and business-driven approaches;
-Working with each other to break down the current barriers to global harmonization, in particular applying the responsible and effective use of sovereignty and Flexible Use of Airspace between civil and military stakeholders.

An important priority for us is therefore to work with States to ensure they play their part and understand the contribution they can make to achieving seamless airspace globally.

ATN: Do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share with the readers of Air Transport News?
PR: The last thirty years the concept of Air Traffic Control did change in a constant pace. In the upcoming decades I expect to see an acceleration. The next two decennia especially will be interesting as concepts, techniques, forms of cooperation, partnerships and increasing capacity will change our industry dramatically.