Estonia and Finland plan to launch a joint air traffic control service next year which officials say will reduce costs and CO2 emissions and increase air safety.
"European airspace is small, but each country has its own air traffic control service. If each country develops its own systems, it increases costs," Raine Luojus, CEO of the Finnish air traffic control company Fintraffic, told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (link in Finnish).
Luojus said a joint regional air traffic control center will be created between Finland and Estonia, which would operate under one management, but in two cities. The arrangement should help airlines, who will be able to choose the most convenient route and save fuel.
Responsibilities would be split between Finnish air traffic controllers in Vantaa and Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS in Tallinn who would both be able to take control of the airspace. However, it will be possible to restore control to each country during an emergency.
Luojus said there is also a security aspect to the plan, as it allows both countries to use the same meteorological data, providing more operational information to aircraft flying over the Gulf of Finland. It is not uncommon for Russian military planes to fly through the airspace without communicating.
He said the merger will not lead to redundancies. It may be necessary to hire regional air traffic controllers instead, he added, which will not be difficult as qualifications are harmonized across Europe and air traffic control is carried out in English.
Editor: Helen Wright