Most expensive ATC in Europe?

By Declan Selleck


Let’s say you have a flight heading to Europe tomorrow, and you’re routing it eastbound via: Shanwick (EGGX), Shannon (EISN), and London (EGTT) FIR’s into Amsterdam.

Do you have any idea what it  costs to talk to each controller, on an hourly basis?

EB Route

The answer might surprise you. We’ll assume you’re crossing in a B737, weighing around 80 tons (or 175,000 lbs). For an hour’s worth of ATC on the Ocean, it’s 50 bucks.

Next up, you’ll talk to Shannon – and this will cost you about $300 an hour in your B737. As soon as you enter London’s airspace – same service – that rate goes up to about $1000 an hour.

For the above example, you’ll have paid these charges, in USD:

  • Shanwick(Oceanic): $50
  • Shannon(Ireland): $280
  • London(UK): $780

Worth knowing, right? Eurocontrol publishes a list of Unit Rates each month – the current one for May 2016 is below. So who is the most expensive? Simple answer: Switzerland. Followed closely by the UK, Germany and Italy. As you can see, there are huge variations.

The Unit charge in each is what you will pay in a 50 ton aircraft (the Boeing 717 is bang on this weight), for 50nm of that airspace. So, enter the Swiss FIR for 50 miles in a B717, and you’ll get a bill for €104. If you operate a larger aircraft, then a weight factor is applied, for example, multiply everything by 1.25 for a B737. (If you want the maths, here’s the formula).

These are the May Unit Rates, just published, in order of expense, in Euro, which is $1.15 right now.

ICAO Airspace Unit Rate
LS Switzerland € 104.14
EG United Kingdom € 92.12
ED Germany € 82.68
LI Italy € 80.17
LO Austria € 73.72
LE Spain Continent. € 71.78
LF France € 67.63
EH Netherlands € 67.09
EB Belg.-Luxembourg € 65.50
LJ Slovenia € 65.47
ES Sweden € 63.02
EK Denmark € 61.91
LU Moldova € 59.37
GC Spain Canarias € 58.45
EF Finland € 56.32
LZ Slovak Republic € 52.63
LW FYROM € 52.36
LD Croatia € 48.02
LA Albania € 45.61
EY Lithuania € 44.99
LK Czech Republic € 43.06
LQ Bosnia Herzeg. € 41.88
EN Norway € 41.05
LP Portugal Lisboa € 39.99
UD Armenia € 38.65
LY Serb.-Montenegro-KFOR € 37.06
LR Romania € 36.48
LG Greece € 36.11
LH Hungary € 35.04
EP Poland € 33.84
LC Cyprus € 33.66
EI Ireland € 29.76
EV Latvia € 27.40
LM Malta € 25.88
LT Turkey € 25.69
UG Georgia € 23.80
LB Bulgaria € 22.68
AZ Portugal S M € 10.89


Further reading:

Eurocontrol Guide to Route Charges


More on the topic:

More reading:

Declan Selleck

Declan Selleck

Declan is a Flight Service Specialist with OPSGROUP.


  • Karsten says:

    I am not surprised at all. Divide the hourly costs by the number of sectors (number of ATCOs) you pass. Oceanic you are in the same sector for hours (50/0,25=200); over Irland you go through one sector, or maybe two (300/1,5=200) and above England you enter four or five sectors. Calculate yourself. The prices can not be the same above a complex airspace in the middle of Europe with a lot of crossing streams, a country at the edge of the continent where the traffic becomes more streamlined and an oceanic airspace. Think of complexity, or think of how many ATCOS it needs to work this Sectors.

  • Lou Keemia says:

    Please publish Eurocontrol route charges, and also advise us how much subsidy they receive from the EU, subsidy directly by EU member states.

  • P eter says:

    Peter would you please provide evidence to your statement.
    The Eurocontrol centre MUAC is one of the most efficient centre not only in Europe, but also worldwide. This statement is based on neutrial l evaluation of all ATC centres of Europe evaluated on yearly basis.

  • Peter says:

    Interesting to see that Eurocontrol doesn’t state it’s own costs, which i.m.h.o. must be higher than the number one in this comparison.

  • Andy says:

    Let’s have a safety or incidents per 1000000 movements list and see if it’s directly proportional to what the costs sre

  • Andy says:

    Figures do not give a true indication of actual ATC cost.

    They are correct in so much as to how much an airline gets charged but wrong in terms of how much the provider really charges. Apart from UK and maybe a couple of others, all these places are state subsidised.

    Pension costs are paid for by their governments therefore it is not a fair reflection…

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