Representatives from five air navigation service providers have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation during the World ATM Congress in Madrid aimed towards merging the two Free Route Airspaces SAXFRA (Slovenian Austrian Cross-Border Free Route Airspace) and SEAFRA (South-East Axis Free Route Airspace made up of BHANSA [Bosnia and Herzegovina], Croatia Control and SMATSA [Serbia and Montenegro]). The two free route airspaces are crucial cross-border initiatives significantly contributing to the efficient flow of air traffic along the vital South-East Axis. Each project has shown itself to be working out very well, but in line with the goals of the Single European Sky, a merging of those two airspaces will generate even greater benefits. The South East Common Sky Initiative will strengthen the South East Axis by offering the shortest route options between Central and South Europe, including the flows to Turkey and further to the Middle East. This initiative not only works towards achieving the goals of the European Commission regarding the implementation of Free Route across Europe, but also fulfils airspace users’ requests for having multiple route options available for the same city pair. The cooperation of SAXFRA and SEAFRA will produce one of the largest cross-border Free Route airspaces in Europe and is a significant step towards achieving a common European Free Route airspace (FRA) by 2022.
The CEO of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Navigation Services Agency (BHANSA), Davorin Primorac, said, “As a logical continuation of an excellent cross-border cooperation through the SAXFRA and SEAFRA free route projects, SECSI [South East Common Sky Initiative] is not only in line with the Single European Sky Initiative but offers even more increased efficiency and capacity over Central and South East Europe”. Dragan Bilać, the CEO of Croatia Control, noted, "The SECSI Free Route airspace is a step forward after the two successfully completed FRA projects, SAXFRA and SEAFRA. I am sure that the five ANSPs [Air Navigation Service Providers] will demonstrate excellent cooperation for the benefit of the airspace users to save thousands of tons of fuel per year. Moreover, the citizens of the six states will be exposed to significantly decreased emissions of CO2 and NOx. I believe the airspace users will recognise the benefits of FRA in this region as well as the environmental achievements”. The CEO of the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA), Radojica Rovčanin, added, “A positive attitude, professionalism and devotion, demonstrated in SEAFRA and SAXFRA projected by all parties involved, guarantees the success of the South East Common Sky Initiative. I am absolutely confident that this important Free Route Airspace project in the region and Europe will deliver more significant savings to our users”. The significance of the South East Common Sky Initiative was also stressed by Joe Sultana, the Director Network Manager at Eurocontrol. “Following the successful implementation of the SAXFRA and SEAFRA initiatives, the South East Europe Common Sky Initiative is an excellent example of how cross-border Free Route Airspace implementation progresses in Europe in complex airspace. The detailed and innovative work conducted by the five ANSPs in close coordination with the Network Manager makes this initiative a tangible example of how the European ATM network can be optimised. It opens significant opportunities for further airspace optimisation in Central and South East Europe with similar neighbouring initiatives”, Mr Sultana said.