Air Defender 23: Hundreds of flights in Europe to be rerouted each day

By David Mumford


There are several military exercises planned in Europe until June 22, affecting some busy airspace in Germany (including Maastricht), Czech Republic, northern Poland, and eastern France.

Air Defender in Germany is going to be the one that will cause the most delays and disruption. It’s happening June 12-22 (Mon-Fri first week, Mon-Thu second week). This is going to be NATO’s biggest ever air exercise, involving 250 military aircraft from 25 countries, and is all about testing their response to a simulated attack on a NATO country.

Eurocontrol are going to be working hard to re-route flights – around 800 flights each day, with around 300 of these expected to have at least 60nm added to their routings. They predicted the average delay per flight would be around only 3 minutes (but we have to say that feels extremely optimistic!)

They are also warning operators not to plan flights that will land close to airport closure times. Several German airports are extending their opening hours on request, although for some you’ll have to prove that Air Defender is the reason you need to arrive/depart late: EDDS/Stuttgart, EDDB/Berlin, EDDF/Frankfurt, EDDL/Dusseldorf (there may be more!)

For more info, in order of usefulness and how painful they are to read (1 = useful, low pain, 4 = bamboozling, not very useful, high pain), check the following:

  1. Eurocontrol’s summary of how bad they think it’s going to be. Click here.
  2. Eurocontrol’s full 65 page briefing. Click here.
  3. German AIP SUP 7/23 of predicted impact in German airspace. Click here.
  4. Czech AIP SUP 2/23 of predicted impact in Czech airspace. Click here.

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