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Social dialogue partners meet (virtually) to discuss FAB CE strategic and current challenges

More than 30 participants logged on to the virtual Social Dialogue Forum on 22 April 2020 where Valerie Hackl, Chair of the FAB CE CEO-Committee and Matej Eljon, FAB CE Programme Manager and Director of FAB CE Aviation Ltd, presented an update on the latest strategic FAB CE initiatives and discussed with social partners some of the immediate challenges facing FAB CE colleagues and air navigation service providers (ANSPs).

“We are in a crisis - but the best way forward is through cooperation and transparency, “said Valerie Hackl. “That is why the social dialogue process is particularly important at the moment.”

Both the FAB CE 2020-2030 strategy and high level plan have now been approved by chief executive officers – including a commitment not to close any en-route centres - and, despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, work has been on-going to implement the strategy through a number of operational and technical work programmes.

These include the FAB CE contingency readiness programme - in case of a loss of an en-route centre, for example – coordinated plans on surveillance infrastructure maintenance and planning, navigational aid infrastructure optimisation, the ADS-B deployment programme, SSR frequency and data link monitoring, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) communications testing and the common CNS planning project, which is investigating common planning of communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) infrastructure on a regional basis to identify areas of cooperation and pursue opportunities for smart procurement.

The final inputs into the ATCO fatigue, stress and cognitive capabilities management study had been received but there had been a limited response so the final deliverable could only be used as a high level input into national management plans.

The COVID-19 mitigation measures put in place by individual FAB CE ANSPs were highlighted and discussed - including revised rostering and other measures aimed at the protection of staff and ANSP finances.

“FAB CE is a regional airspace alliance,” said Matej Eljon, ”and individual ANSP policies are more usually discussed within the companies concerned. But the social dialogue process gives us an important opportunity to share information which is important to all colleagues across the alliance.”

Finally, recovery scenarios from Eurocontrol and IATA were presented, which suggested a recovery – primarily in domestic markets – would not be underway until the third quarter of 2020 with Q4 seeing a pick-up in international markets, but only at 50% of 2019 traffic levels.