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In 2018, the German air navigation service provider, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, controlled over 3.346 million flights – more than ever before. Despite the strong increase in aircraft movements, the safety level in German airspace remains as high as ever. Several capacity-increasing measures focus on reducing delays.
In the business year 2018, DFS recorded only a slight decrease in revenues, despite the traffic growth of 4.2 percent. The revenues generated under IFRS amounted to EUR 1,177.9 million (2017: 1,190.8 million). This decrease can be attributed to lower revenues from charges resulting from a reduction of unit rates. In total, the DFS Group generated a loss of EUR 30.1 million in 2018. This is mainly due to the lower revenues from charges and the higher employee expenses.
In 2018, DFS air traffic controllers handled a total of 3.346 million flights in German airspace. Flying in Germany remains as safe as ever, despite this record.
This is the result of the DFS safety analyses, in which all deviations from prescribed safety minima are thoroughly investigated. In 2018, the company registered 195 cases in which separation minima in the air were not adhered to. Air navigation services contributed to 153 of them.
With reference to the total number of flights, this is less than 0.005 percent. DFS safety levels on runways and taxiways at the airports were also high in 2018: With a record number of 2.3 million take-offs and landings, there was a total of 110 runway incursions.
DFS contributed to only 18 of these. None of the infringements of separation or runway incursions had any direct effect on safety. In most cases, safety minima were only slightly less than required.
In 2018, 88.7 percent of all flights handled by DFS controllers reached their destinations without any delays caused by air traffic control. Compared to the previous years, when punctuality was over 90 percent, this is a slight decline.
The main reason for this is the strong growth of the traffic volume for the fifth consecutive year. It is significantly above the forecasts on which the EU regulatory targets and, thus, DFS planning is based. Delays caused by air traffic control are generated when flow management measures have to be implemented. The purpose of these measures is to support safety so that controllers do not face a potentially dangerous overload situation.
DFS has initiated various measures to provide more capacity this year. Among other things, we have substantially increased the number of trainee air traffic controllers. This year, 122 young men and women will commence their training, with 146 planned for 2020.
In addition, air traffic controllers are being relieved from special tasks, project work for example, so they can spend more time at their working position.
In cooperation with the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol, DFS has started an initiative to distribute air traffic more evenly across Europe. Aircraft are now flying at lower levels or around particularly busy airspaces.
This measure has already prevented millions of delay minutes. Additional capacity is to be created by adhering to flight plans more precisely.
DFS estimates that there will be 3.5 million flight movements in 2019, an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous year. This means that DFS has to handle an average of 420 flights more every day than in 2018. This corresponds to the traffic volume of Hamburg Airport.