IFATCA EVP Europe on the European Staff Shortage

In 2022, the European network delays cost the airlines an estimated EUR 800 million!

According to the Network Manager, around 70 sectors – out of nearly 570 – were responsible for the vast majority of this delay. The main cause for this 7% under-capacity was a shortage of air traffic controllers (ATCOs). With the foreseen 15% traffic increase in summer, the effects of this shortage will be a major hurdle for air travel in Europe and will affect all stakeholders.

Still according to EUROCONTROL, the actual shortage is between 700 and 800 ATCOs. This would mean that there is a need for a “one-off investment" of between EUR 70-200 million for the ANSPs.

How does it compare to an annual cost of EUR 800 million?

IFATCA EVP Europe, Frédéric Deleau

Regulating European Air Traffic Management has been a challenge since the beginning of the European Commission’s Performance Scheme. Following the COVID crisis, the evolution of the existing system has been subjected to new stressors. Continuing to focus on cost efficiency has the potential to suffocate the existing system and undermine the resilience needed for the expected traffic increase. We have witnessed the recurrent formula: stop hiring and training to reduce the costs, after that with the same consequences a few years later: a capacity crisis and sky-rocketing delays. From IFATCA’s perspective, continuously hammering on reducing costs has had the opposite results - i.e. lack of capacity, increased delays, and extra CO2 emissions. Despite what some would like us to believe, this cost-cutting policy contributes to a very inglorious cocktail for the future of a sustainable aviation industry.

Consequently, IFATCA calls on the European Commission to exclude the hiring of the needed workforce from a future target-setting scheme, as it could avoid continuing this negative spiral.

Targeted cost efficiency, performance goals, robust professional dialogue, and sound resource management within a political visionary project shall be our main targets to deliver what we all look for: a safe, performant, continuous and viable European aviation industry.

Building on the existing experience and performance of the ATM system, there is a need to continue to strive for the long-term sustainable development of a robust and resilient system.

Solutions exist, though, depending on political will. IFATCA has always been willing to participate in constructive debate and has proposals for a “win-win” system.

A few established ATC systems exist ( even for decades) with a proven performance and efficiency record, which can serve as the blueprint of the Single European Sky at a regional level.

Therefore, the potential exists to spread this performance across the European Network if one would look to work “Together-Further” towards a common goal. A political commitment is needed.

For now, IFATCA has produced a self-reported heat map which you can access via the following link. While the data is, of course, subjective, it demonstrates how our European Member Associations perceive their situation.

Read IFATCA's Press Release on the European Staff Shortage

To make matters worse, the demography of the current workforce does not look like this problem will go away soon. To ensure the transition to a more digital and greener industry, we will likely need extra resources. It would be timely to highlight this general challenge.

All (European) Air Traffic Controllers take pride in ensuring a safe and efficient service to airspace users. Solutions exist to achieve more performance, not necessarily embedded in SES2+. We have missed many opportunities and wasted exceptional resources due mainly to the wrong target foundations of inconsistent political agendas.

IFATCA remains available to deliver its professional and technical expertise to achieve the safe, continuous, sound, and performant Air Traffic Control system the European continent deserves.

International Women's Day 2023

This is the first time the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations (IFATCA), International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA), International Federation of Aeronautical Information Management Associations (IFAIMA), and International Federation of Flight Information Association (IFISA) have come together to promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive aviation industry by embracing the International Women’s Day theme:


Barriers associated with workplace stereotypes have hindered women from pursuing and advancing careers in our sector. There is a lack of women in the general workforce and specifically in leadership roles in Aviation.

When we #EmbraceEquity, we state that promoting equal, diverse, and inclusive access to the aviation profession is not only a question of including women, but also a way to ensure that the aviation world is not missing out on half of the World’s talent pool.

When we #EmbraceEquity, we highlight that initiatives supporting women in accessing the professions and in career development are needed. We want to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to drive gender parity.

When we #EmbraceEquity, we help future generations of women view aviation as an industry where diversity is valued and celebrated.

We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Collective activism is what drives change. From every single person within aviation to the global aviation industry as a whole, we must all embrace equity.


Press Release - Crash in Pokhara, NEPAL


Montréal, Canada - The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations, IFATCA, expresses its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those affected by the crash of a Yeti Airlines ATR-72 in Pokhara, Nepal on January 15, 2023. In particular, our thoughts and prayers go to our colleague who lost several close family members in this tragic accident.

IFATCA will liaise with our colleagues in Nepal to offer them assistance. It is of utmost importance that those who have witnessed the accident first-hand are provided with the appropriate support to help them cope with such a traumatic event.

As the representative body for air traffic controller professionals worldwide, IFATCA asks that the media respect the privacy of the families and loved ones affected by this tragic event and refrain from speculating on the cause of the crash. Aviation accidents are typically caused by a complex interaction of multiple factors, and speculation on these factors does not contribute to improving safety.

Screenshot 2022-11-27 at 15.05.52

100 Years ATC - We Are Just Getting Started

ATC 100 is about looking at the profession over the last hundred years. It’s important to document our history but equally important is to document our present so that in the future, people will look back at this event, and we'll become part of their history.

The idea of documenting the present translated into projects like the One Hundred Faces and the One Hundred Ways to Say Air Traffic Controller. Striking in all of these is how passionate controllers are about their profession. It doesn't matter what country you come from, put a group of controllers in a room or a group of controllers with others in the room, and you can pick them out.

To illustrate this, Julio from Portugal, Alessandra from Italy, Ricard from Sweden and Christian from Estonia volunteered to present their views on what being an air traffic controller means to them.


Press Release: Accident in Lima, Peru

On behalf of Air Traffic Controllers around the world, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations, IFATCA, would like to express its condolences to all those affected by the accident on 18 November 2022 in Lima, Peru, where an aircraft on take-off collided with a fire truck. We are in contact with our colleagues in Peru and have offered them assistance. It is of utmost importance that all involved are provided with appropriate support to help them cope with such a traumatic event.

The IFATCA Executive Board understands and respects the need for the families of the victims and the general public to find explanations and closure. However, this cannot be achieved by premature and undue speculation about the causes of the tragedy. Aviation accidents are typically caused by a complex interaction of multiple factors that result in a tragic outcome. 

We emphasize that according to Annex 13 to the International Convention on Civil Aviation, the sole objective of the investigation of an accident or incident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability. The same Annex also explicitly protects the identity of the staff directly or indirectly involved in the accident. Peru has been a signatory to the ICAO Convention since 1946.

Speculation, especially regarding possible responsibilities, is unacceptable at this early investigation stage and may even hinder this process. We urge all parties involved to stick to facts and official findings when those are released by the authorities.

En nombre de los Controladores de Tráfico Aéreo de todo el mundo, la Federación Internacional de Asociaciones de Controladores de Tráfico Aéreo, IFATCA, desea expresar sus condolencias a todos los afectados por el accidente ocurrido el 18 de noviembre de 2022 en Lima, Perú, en el que una aeronave que estaba despegando colisionó con un camión de bomberos. Estamos en contacto con nuestra colegas en Perú con el fin de ofrecerles asistencia. Es de suma importancia que todos los implicados reciban el apoyo adecuado para ayudarles a sobrellevar un evento tan traumático.

El Consejo Ejecutivo de la IFATCA comprende y respeta la necesidad de que las familias de las víctimas y el público en general reciban información y explicaciones. Sin embargo, esto no puede lograrse mediante especulaciones prematuras e indebidas sobre la causa del accidente. Los accidentes de aviación suelen estar causados por una compleja interacción de múltiples factores que dan lugar a un trágico resultado.

Hemos de destacar que, según el Anexo 13 del Convenio Internacional de Aviación Civil, el único objetivo de la investigación de un accidente o incidente será la prevención de accidentes e incidentes. No es el propósito de esta actividad determinar la culpa o la responsabilidad. El mismo anexo también protege explícitamente la identidad del personal implicado directa o indirectamente en el accidente. Perú es signatario del Convenio de la OACI desde 1946.

La especulación, especialmente cuando se trata de posibles responsabilidades, es inaceptable en esta fase temprana de la investigación, e incluso puede obstaculizar este proceso. Instamos a todas las partes implicadas a que se atengan a los hechos y a las conclusiones oficiales cuando éstas sean publicadas por las autoridades.

Ukraine on the map of the world.

Ukraine Situation update during European Regional Meeting

During the European Regional Meeting, a representative of the Ukrainian Federation of Air Traffic Controllers (FATCU) made a gripping statement on behalf of his colleagues.

The solidarity of IFATCA Member States with their Ukrainian colleagues has been incredible and continues to this day. At the same time, it must be recognised that we can only alleviate a very small part of their problems and suffering. If you or your association wishes to help, please check https://ifatca.org/ukraine

Sláva Ukrayíni


Press Release - Situation Haiti

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations, IFATCA, is gravely concerned for the safety of civil aviation in Haitian airspace following the attack on civil aviation safety personnel, including three air traffic controllers, one suffering a gunshot injury, in close proximity to Toussaint Louverture International Airport while being transported to work.

IFATCA has asked the National Office of Civil Aviation (OFNAC) for their immediate and thorough attention to the significant matters involving the safety and security of air traffic control professionals and subsequently the aviation system in Haiti. Unfortunately, to date IFATCA has received no response from OFNAC.

IFATCA acknowledges the difficult situation in the country and hopes for peace soon. However, the health and well-being of this essential workforce is of the utmost concern to us therefore proper dialogue should take place so resolution with representatives of Association Professionnelle des Contrôleurs Aériens Haïtiens (APCAH) can occur regarding this urgent situation.

While air traffic control personnel have worked tirelessly to provide services it is time now to readjust the priorities to protect these air traffic controllers. Exacerbating this already tragic situation, allowing former air traffic controllers that are not qualified, rated, licensed, or certified to work air traffic control positions poses concerns for the safety of air traffic in Haiti.

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) is the independent, non-political, and non-industrial professional association representing more than 50,000 air traffic controllers in 133 countries worldwide. Among the objectives of the Federation is the promotion of safety, efficiency, and regularity in international air navigation, along with safeguarding the interests of air traffic controllers. In this case, air traffic controllers’ lives are at risk.

IFATCA, as a Federation of aviation safety professionals feels obligated to raise this matter of extreme urgency.

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ICAO Assembly #41

The ICAO Assembly meets at least once every three years and is convened by ICAO’s governing body, the Council. During the sessions, ICAO’s complete work programme in the technical, economic, legal and technical cooperation fields is reviewed in detail. Assembly outcomes are then provided to the other bodies of ICAO and to its Member States. IFATCA attends these sessions as observer - meaning it is not entitled to vote on the issues discussed, but can comment on the different working papers submitted.

The 2022 session was held from 27 September until 7 October. Our Federation's interventions can be reviewed below.

IFALPA & IFATCA comment on Working Paper 123, on unstable approaches

IFATCA's intervention on Working Paper 228, presented by ACI, which highlights the economic challenges faced by our industry’s airports.
IFATCA's comments on Working Paper 230 - standardizing of working practices during abnormal traffic levels whilst maintaining training efficiency
IFATCA's input on Working Paper 256 on improving the approach to mental health.
IFATCAs comments on Working Paper 356, submitted by CANSO on their roadmap for future skies


New Issue of The Controller

The editorial team is proud to present the latest electronic issue of The Controller. As usual, our magazine is available on a variety of platforms:

  • The IFATCA website: https://the-controller.ifatca.org, where issues can be read from within your browser. While this can be read on mobile devices, it does require you to be online (and your provider may charge you for this).
    For the best experience, we recommend to select the full screen option via the toolbar on top of the pages.
  • Mobile Devices (tablets): We use issuu.com for the best experience on mobile devices. The issuu.com app, which allows you to read The Controller offline on your tablet can be downloaded via https://ios.the-controller.net, https://android.the-controller.net and https://windows.the-controller.net. Best of all, the issues are now available for free - look for IFATCA once you've started the app.
  • PDF Version: download the pdf version of the latest issue. This file is about 6Mb in size and requires a PDF viewer to be able to read it. A higher quality version is available via this link (50Mb).
  • For Member Associations: a print-ready PDF version (about 50Mb) can be downloaded that can eventually be printed for your members. Alternatively, issuu.com also offers a printing service. Please visit https://issuu.com/ifatca for more details. Associations that have problems to download these files can contact our Montréal office via [email protected].

Besides being free, an electronic issue also offers new possibilities to interact with the content. Links in articles and adverts can be clicked and open to the relevant page.


ASECNA Situation

Update 24 - SEP 2022

ASECNA controllers have suspended their action for 10 days, pending new negotiations with their management. IFATCA welcomes this development and encourages all parties to reach a constructive and meaningful agreement.

Press Release - 23 SEP 2022

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations, IFATCA, is gravely concerned for the safety of civil aviation in parts of West Africa following the rapid escalation of the social conflict between the ASECNA staff across 17 countries and their management.

IFATCA has received reports that multiple air traffic controllers have been arrested, notably in Brazzaville and Douala.

In other ASECNA locations, unqualified staff, including military personnel with no civil air traffic control experience, have reportedly taken over working positions.

We also understand that airspace users have not been advised of these developments, and are under the impression that the service is being provided by fully qualified and competent personnel. They may therefore not be aware of the risks these vindictive measures pose for the safety of the airspace under control of ASECNA.

As signatories to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, States commit to upholding the licensing and competency standards set out in Annex 1 to the Convention. The replacement of qualified controllers with untrained persons, while neglecting to notify the international community is a breach of trust and undermines the credibility of the safety of that airspace.

Given the obvious risks posed by the unavailability of qualified control staff, IFATCA believes that there are immediate concerns for the safety of air traffic in the airspace controlled by the ASECNA organisation. We have communicated these concerns to other international organisations, including IFALPA, IATA and ICAO.

In the interest of air traffic safety, IFATCA calls on the involved parties to de-escalate this situation as quickly as possible and to return to the negotiating table, preferably with an independent mediator.

La Fédération Internationale des Associations de Contrôleurs Aériens, IFATCA, est gravement préoccupée par la sécurité de l'aviation civile dans certaines parties de l'Afrique de l'Ouest suite à l'escalade rapide du conflit social entre le personnel de l'ASECNA dans 17 pays et leur direction.

L'IFATCA a reçu des informations selon lesquelles plusieurs contrôleurs aériens ont été arrêtés, notamment à Brazzaville et à Douala.

Dans d'autres sites de l'ASECNA, du personnel non qualifié, y compris du personnel militaire sans expérience du contrôle du trafic aérien civil, aurait repris des postes de travail.

Nous comprenons également que les usagers de l'espace aérien n'ont pas été informés de ces développements et ont l'impression que le service est fourni par un personnel pleinement qualifié et compétent. Ils peuvent donc ne pas être conscients des risques que ces mesures vindicatives font peser sur la sécurité de l'espace aérien sous contrôle de l'ASECNA.

En tant que signataires de la Convention relative à l'aviation civile internationale, les États s'engagent à respecter les normes de licence et de compétence énoncées à l'annexe 1 de la Convention. Le remplacement de contrôleurs qualifiés par des personnes non formées, tout en négligeant d'informer la communauté internationale, est un abus de confiance et sape la crédibilité de la sécurité de cet espace aérien.

Compte tenu des risques évidents posés par l'indisponibilité de personnel de contrôle qualifié, l'IFATCA estime qu'il existe des préoccupations immédiates pour la sécurité du trafic aérien dans l'espace aérien contrôlé par l'organisation ASECNA. Nous avons communiqué ces préoccupations à d'autres organisations internationales, notamment l'IFALPA, l'IATA et l'OACI.

Dans l'intérêt de la sécurité du trafic aérien, l'IFATCA appelle les parties concernées à désamorcer cette situation le plus rapidement possible et à revenir à la table des négociations, de préférence avec un médiateur indépendant.


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