A memorandum of cooperation has been signed by representatives from five air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to merge two free route airspaces, namely the Slovenian Austrian Cross-Border Free Route Airspace (SAXFRA) and the South-East Axis Free Route Airspace (SEAFRA).

ANSPs Austro Control and Slovenia Control implemented SAXFRA, while SEAFRA was launched by ANSPs BHANSA, Croatia Control, and Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA).

SAXFRA and SEAFRA are two major cross-border initiatives that largely contribute to the efficient flow of air traffic along the main South-East axis.

In line with the goals of Single European Sky, the South East Common Sky Initiative will merge the two airspaces and help strengthen the South East axis by providing shorter route options between Central and South Europe, including traffic to Turkey and the Middle East.

Austro Control chief operating officer Thomas Hoffmann said: “If there is a common goal and willingness to cooperate, we can achieve great things.

“The South East Common Sky Initiative is a perfect example for that. Five ANSPs working together towards improving the flow of air traffic across Europe.”

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"In line with the goals of Single European Sky, this is the next significant step towards Free Route airspace across all of Europe."

The new initiative will help the European Commission (EC) implement its Free Route across Europe project, as well as increase the number of routes for airspace users.

Austro Control CEO Heinz Sommerbauer said: “In line with the goals of Single European Sky, this is the next significant step towards Free Route airspace across all of Europe.

“The South East Common Sky Initiative will benefit both the airlines and passengers in reducing fuel consumption as well as the travel time.”

The current agreement will help develop one of the largest cross-border Free Route airspaces, and play a significant role in the achievement of a common European Free Route airspace (FRA) by 2022.

Image: Five air navigation service providers sign memorandum of cooperation to create cross-border Free Route Airspace. Photo: courtesy of Austro Control.