Reducing costs of air traffic control

Air traffic control is a concentrated industry with high costs. There is a strong political focus on bringing these costs down to preserve the competitiveness of smaller airports, and for some to ensure survival. In the political debate, the two most prominent tools to reduce costs are the further expansion of competition between providers of air traffic control and the potential future usage of advanced technologies as remote tower concepts.

We were asked by ACR Aviation Capacity Resources to investigate the effectiveness of introducing remote towers in comparison to introducing competition.

We find that savings from remote towers are possible, but they will not materialize, and they will not be as large unless remote towers are provided on a competitive market, that is by allowing airports to choose air navigation service providers through competitive tendering processes.

Particularly, in the short run, introducing competitive markets is the best guarantee for cost savings and they are also a precondition for the long run realization of the potential cost saving in remote towers.

We argue that the introduction of competition should be prioritized over or on par with the introduction of remote air traffic control for five reasons:

The study is commissioned by ACR Aviation Capacity Resources.

Download a condensed version of the study


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