Yesterday afternoon I was sat in the 10ÂºC sunshine at 1200m above sea level sipping a beer in ChÃ¢tel (Haute Savoie) after 3 days of skiing, with no sign of snow in the village. Yet climate change and energy efficiency were on my mind – it was more interesting to think of that than nurse my aching limbs, and I was feeling guilty for having flown from Brussels rather than go by train (that would have cost twice as much – sob).
But one thing was bugging me: the announcement from the pilot on the Easyjet flight from Brussels to Geneva about 40 minutes after take off – “out of the left side of the plane you can see the city of Basel”. Basel? Now my knowledge of European geography is not too bad, and I knew even then that Basel is not on a straight line from Brussels to Geneva. Having researched it now I reckon Basel is a good 100km off the direct route. Plus the flight I was on took off towards the south from Brussels, and landed from the west in Geneva, so takeoff and landing are not to blame for the route.
I hence reckon the flight I was on was one of those that suffers inefficiencies due to the lack of a Single European Sky. Now I’m not sure how that might apply to Switzerland, but 95% of the route from Brussels should be over EU-country airspace, and MEPs have come up with the figure of 12 million tonnes of C02 that could be saved if all of Europe’s 35 air control authorities were merged (more from Euractiv) and unnecessary route complications eliminated. That’s 600 times more C02 than would be saved by abolishing the Strasbourg seat of the European Parliament…
So what are we waiting for? Even if you’re unconcerned by climate change a Single European Sky would make good economic sense. Can national governments really say the jobs of some air traffic administrators in their respective countries, or the sovereignty of airspace are valid reasons for not doing something about this?