Air traffic flow management

Regulation (EU) No 255/2010 – common rules on air traffic flow management

It aims to lay down measures regarding air traffic flow management (ATFM) to optimise available capacity in the use of airspace and enhance ATFM processes.
The uniform application of specific rules and procedures within the airspace of the single European sky is critical to achieve the optimum use of available air traffic control capacity, through the efficient management and operation of the ATFM function.

Key Points

The regulation applies:

within the airspace of the single European sky as laid out in Regulation (EC) No 551/2004 on air traffic management and affects
all flights intended to operate or operating as general air traffic and in accordance with the instrument flight rules*
air traffic management;
to the following parties involved in ATFM processes
aircraft operators
air traffic service units
aeronautical information services
entities involved in airspace management
airport managing bodies
central unit for ATFM
local ATFM units
slot coordinators of coordinated airports*.

The planning, coordination and execution of the ATFM measures undertaken by the above list of parties must be in accordance with the provisions laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

EU countries must ensure that:

the ATFM function is constantly available to the above list of parties involved in the ATFM processes;
the definition and implementation of ATFM measures complies with national security and defence requirements of individual EU countries.

General obligations of air traffic services (ATS) units

ATS units must coordinate – through the local ATFM unit – with the central unit for ATFM when applying an ATFM measure, to ensure that the selected measure will optimise the overall performance of the European Air Traffic Management network (EATMN)*.
ATS units must inform the central unit for ATFM of all events that may affect air traffic control capacity or air traffic demand.

ATS units must also provide the central unit for ATFM with various information and subsequent updates, including among other things:
availability of airspace and route structures;
air traffic control sector and airport capacities;
route availability;
deviations from flight plans;
airspace availability.

The full list of data must be made available to the above list of parties involved in ATFM processes and provided free of charge to, and by, the central unit for ATFM.

General obligations of operators

Any relevant ATFM measures and changes to filed flight plans must be included in the planned flight operation and the pilot must be notified. When a flight plan is suspended because the ATFM departure slot cannot be met, the operator concerned must arrange for updating or cancelling the flight plan.

Consistency between flight plans and airport slots

EU countries must ensure that, on request by an airport slot coordinator or managing body of a coordinated airport, the central unit for ATFM or the local ATFM unit provides them with the agreed flight plan of a flight operating at that airport, before the flight.

Critical events

EU countries must ensure the creation and publication of ATFM procedures for the management of critical events to minimise disruption to the EATMN.
To prepare for critical events, ATS units and airport managing bodies will coordinate the contingency procedures with the operators affected by such events.

Monitoring of ATFM compliance

EU countries must ensure that airports adhere to ATFM departure slots. Where the adherence is 80% or less during a year, the ATS units at the airport concerned must detail the actions taken to ensure future adherence.
The ATS unit at an airport is also responsible for providing the appropriate information on any failure to adhere to flight plan rejections or suspensions at that airport and to detail the actions taken to ensure future compliance.

Application & Background

It has applied since 26 September 2011.

See also:

Single European Sky (European Commission).

Instrument flight rules: rules which allow properly equipped aircraft to be flown under instrument meteorological conditions (detailed in ICAO Annex 2: Rules of the Air, Chapter 5: Instrument Flight Rules).
Coordinated airport: an airport with a high level of congestion where demand exceeds capacity during the relevant period and where, in order to land or take off, it is necessary for an air carrier to have a slot allocated by a coordinator.
European Air Traffic Management network: the collection of systems enabling air navigation services in the EU to be provided, including the interfaces at the EU’s external boundaries.


Commission Regulation (EU) No 255/2010 of 25 March 2010 laying down common rules on air traffic flow management (OJ L 80, 26.3.2010, pp. 10-16)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 255/2010 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EC) No 551/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2004 on the organisation and use of the airspace in the single European sky (the airspace Regulation) (OJ L 96, 31.3.2004, pp. 20-25)


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