Could Air Traffic Management Learn from Other Network Industries?

Could Air Traffic Management Learn from Other Network Industries?


G Benderli, ENV-ISA, INT; P Smith, European Commission, INT


The objective of this study was to investigate how the current ?markets? underlying ATM activities may evolve in the context of the SES legislation of 2004, in light of the evolution observed in three other network industries.


The objective of this study was to investigate how the current ?markets? underlying Air Traffic Management activities may evolve in the context of the Single European Sky (SES) legislation of 2004, in light of the evolution observed in three other network industries: Internet, mobile telecommunications, and passenger air transport.

The SES legislation sets out regulatory principles to improve air transport safety, restructure the European airspace according to traffic flows rather than national boundaries, create additional capacity and more generally to improve the overall efficiency of the ATM system. In this context, the ATM market structure, its actors and the services provided to users may experience significant evolutions.

Air traffic services are provided in most of the European countries by national authorities and are not subject to competition whereas some other network industries (e.g. the Internet) are totally deregulated and competitive. This innovative study introduces a market oriented approach for ATM despite the challenge of the gap between a public service focusing on safety, and deregulated/non-regulated networks.
The study was performed in three steps. First, the ATM institutional background was reviewed and ATM services were analysed with a market oriented vision (in terms of supply, demand and the discrepancies between the two sides of the market). Second, ATM markets were compared to the Internet, mobile telecommunications and passenger air transport services. Third, based on potential benefits and commonalities between reviewed industries, possible evolutions of ATM markets were identified.

When analysing the ATM services, the Harvard Paradigm ?Structure-Behavior-Performance? was used as methodological framework. This concept hypothesizes the existence between organizations structures, their strategies and their performances. ATM services are mostly not provided on free markets so all aspects of this framework do not fit the reality; however it offered orientation to guide the market analysis.
The following ATM markets were investigated in terms of supply and demand and compared to their equivalent in other industries.
? Network Design
? Flow Management
? Traffic Control
? Network Access Point
? Pricing and Invoicing Function

In the second part of the study, the market evolution and liberalisation experiences in the Internet, mobile telecommunications and passenger air transport industries are described. It is explained how liberalisation affected the market structure, and also who is regulating the actors of these markets and to what extent. Factual information was used from the German, French, and UK experiences. Some general consequences of the deregulation in the three markets can be determined which give an idea of the possible future of ATM:
? Fast development of the technology
? Introduction of new service types
? Lower prices that resulted in increased demand and high market penetration rates

Finally, the last step of the study consists of drawing possible evolution scenarios for ATM in light of experiences from the three selected network industries. By defining scenarios, the idea was to analyse if enough commonalities exist across the selected network industries and ATM, to extrapolate possible future pathways for air traffic services. Rather than trying the define a ?forecast? as such, this part points to the reasons why observed trends may or may not happen for ATM markets, and questions the probability of these trends to result in comparable consequences and to meet SES objectives.

Trying to sketch future ATM market structures, the possibilities to introduce in ATM notions like ?backbone?, ?flat rate as pricing mechanism?, ?guaranteed flows?, etc. are examined based on the fact that they are significant attributes of the Internet, mobile telecommunications and air passenger transport networks. All the scenarios aim at decreasing the discrepancies between the supply and the demand as well as improving the airspace capacity by introducing a market-oriented perspective into the ATM market.

The first scenario involved the introduction of intermediate organisations between the airspace users and the ANSPs in order to introduce a more service-oriented approach to the ATM market. These would deal with the ATM issues (e.g. obtaining the capacity that the airlines need, billing procedure for the ATM related charges, etc.) in the name of their member airlines. This idea is comparable with the travel agencies in the passenger air transport market.

The second scenario looked at the possible effects of a new capacity management for airports and ATFM, using slot mechanism based on economic incentives.
The last scenario discusses the possibility of vertical unbundling of the national ANSPs in order to create international ?backbones? for upper airspace control by re-bundling the related business units at European level.

The main conclusion of the study is that despite the appearance, strong commonalities between ATM and the investigated industries exist so some evolution in the same direction would make sense. This possible evolution is also consistent with other ATM innovative research studies.


Association for European Transport