According to the European air traffic control (Eurocontrol), delays in air traffic should explode in 2018, and the situation will not improve in the coming years, as European airports do not have the capacity to cope with the expected growth of air traffic.

Flights in the European airspace should increase by 1.9% every year, to reach 16.2 million flights in 2040, half more than 2017. The main European airports are already trying to improve on their capacity, but the expected increase of 2.4 million flights per year might not be enough.

In total, up to 1.5 million flights and thus 160 million passengers might not be able to be transported by 2040. As for delays, the number of passengers experiencing from one to two hours of delay could go from 50.000 per day today to 470.000 in 2040.

During the ACI General Assembly on June 19, 2018, Eamonn Brennan, director general of Eurocontrol, commented on the previsions: “This is a long-term forecast so we do have time to address the issues it raises but providing more capacity, and especially on this scale, requires long-term planning. Therefore I think we need to address the issue as a matter of urgency”.

Several solutions are currently studied, aside from building more runways. Eurocontrol expects new technology such as big data, multi-modal infrastructures and bigger aircraft to enhance the quality of traffic.

But 2018 will already see a massive increase in delays. While 9.3 million minutes of delay were recorded in 2017, it could amount up to 14.3 million minutes in 2018 (a 53% increase). Eurocontrol attributes the phenomenon to strikes and personnel shortage.