Air traffic controllers who work in the capital not only deal with take-offs and landings at Chopin Airport and at Modlin near Warsaw. Air traffic management in the airspace over the entire country is also carried out from Warsaw Airport. The Polish sky is used by aircraft flying from Western Europe to Asia and back, as well as from north to south. Therefore, the conflict in Pansa is not only a Polish problem.

The intergovernmental organization Eurocontrol calculates that an average of 800 air operations, that is, take-offs and landings, take place every day at Polish airports alone. After the airspace of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia is excluded from use, almost all air traffic to and from Poland is directed to the north, south and west.

The Bansa dispute is not only a problem for Poland

In the document “Capacity Issues in Poland. Impact Assessment” dated March 24, 2022, accessed by money.pl, a scenario was analyzed in which the possibilities of controlling traffic in the airspace over Poland are very limited. What would happen if most of the Warsaw watchers were absent from May 1st? Just take a look at the map below.

This scenario assumes, for example, that aircraft flying from southern Europe to the Baltic states will bypass Poland’s airspace.It is the shortest path for them. This will divert a lot of air traffic over Germany. Our western neighbor already runs one of the busiest parts of Europe’s skies.

So, you can see in the chart below In the night hours over Poland only one sector is enough, and in peak hours even eight.

And what will it look like on May 1, when most consoles deal with the so-called space? According to Eurocontrol, only one sector will be opened. This will reduce the number of operations that can be processed.

Air traffic controllers noted that forecasts from March 28 to April 30 may have assumed that the problem of staff shortages would not arise during this period. Meanwhile, the first group of 44 people left at the end of March. PANSA has admitted that it is currently experiencing increased absenteeism among air traffic controllers, including due to sick leave.

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Empty skies over Poland. Economic consequences

Eurocontrol assumes in its analysis that the average number of daily flights is 1,850 flights over Poland in the summer. The estimated number of flights that must be rerouted varies from 500 to 1,000 flights each day. It depends on how many sectors will be able to “open” PANSA.

If four sectors are opened over Poland, Eurocontrol estimates that about 500 flights will be redirected from our country’s airspace. If there are three sectors, then there will be 600 flights, with two – 800, and one – a thousand. Also considered is a scenario in which PANSA focuses only on traffic to and from Poland, that is, the operations of taking off and landing at airports and directing these aircraft through the country’s airspace. In this variant, Eurocontrol writes about 1.1 thousand. Redirected flights and ‘long delays’.

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The economic impact of a scenario where you have to reroute 1,000 cruises per day has been estimated. Eurocontrol confirms that This is a waste of time, but it is also a waste of fuel, and it will increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Economic scenario (potential gains/losses)

Impact on the number of trips

Length (nautical mile)

time (minutes)

Jet fuel (kg)

carbon dioxide (kg)

NOx (kg)

1000

92000

12300

490000

1,530,000

5800

These aircraft will have to spend a total of 92 thousand. nautical miles or 170,000 miles. 384 km. They will burn an additional 490 tons of fuel, and cruises will be extended by 205 hours. one day.

Eurocontrol: agreement or substantial flight cancellation

Therefore, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation has no doubt that the effects of the black scenario will be severe and palpable throughout Europe:

Many flights will have to be diverted which will have a significant impact on the network, especially in neighboring air traffic control agencies. There will be a risk of severe and unexpected congestion in the airspace of neighboring countries. High network instability. Long delays in arrival / departure from Warsaw – we read in the document.

FIR Warszawa is a flight information area covering the airspace over the territory of the Republic of Poland and partly over the Baltic Sea. If there is a need to redirect flights from over Poland, The air traffic control centers in Karlsruhe, Prague, Malmö, Bratislava and Vilnius are expected to be heavily loaded.

Eurocontrol notes that many of them are heavily loaded today, such as Karlsruhe, where “not all traffic can be controlled unless there is a long delay until late evening”. In turn, the controllers from Prague will have to accommodate about 500 additional flights, and today their sectors – let’s remind you, the airspace is divided – are close to maximum capacity. Bandwidth is the maximum number of operations that controllers can handle at any one time.

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Therefore, in the conclusions of its analysis, Eurocontrol writes directly about two possible solutions:

  • Major cancellation of flights to/from Poland and flights to/from Northern Europe
  • Reach an agreement and bring the situation back to normal.

The Prime Minister: The situation in Bansa is tense

I am convinced that these talks, with the mutual responsibility of both parties, because our airspace is our national asset and it is worthy of this conflict to end (will end). As soon as possible. And I think there’s a very, very high hope for that,” said the Prime Minister.

The next round of talks is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 9:30 AM at the latest.