Chicago Journal of International Law


The 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull led to an unprecedented cessation of European air traffic. Since the crisis, European air regulators have aggressively advocated for accelerated implementation of the second phase of the Single European Sky reforms, which would effectively eliminate national borders in air travel by delegating sovereign air traffic management to multilateral entities. However, this Comment aTgues that, contrary to the official version of events, this cure-more centraliZed decision-making-contributed to the crisis's escalation in the first place. A better solution, with greater legitimacy under existing European Union and United Nations agreements, is to maintain a system of national air traffic management while empowering private carriers to make cancellation decisions with input from outside agencies as requested. National sovereignty should be respected in air traffic regulation not just because of its historic relevance, but because the practical costs of the loss of sovereignty in air traffic management can be impermissibly high. In short, there should not be a tradeoff in European aviation between innovations in safety and maintaining the sovereignty of individual nations.