Scheme could be in force by 2012
The European Parliament has backed a second legislative package of the Single European Sky (SESII) which will improve the integration of air space among EU members.
The measure could cut delays, reduce stacking, cut CO2 emissions and possibly lower fares.
It was approved by MEPs after the legislators sorted out differences with the EC and Europe's transport ministers last week.
It is possible the SESII will now come into force in 2012.
Currently each members controls its own airspace with different rules and air traffic control operators.
This can force planes to fly circuitous routes, adding to journey times, CO2 emissions and costs.
Plans for an SES have been delayed, partly by objections from member states who had worries over sovereignty.
But the EC put forward a new package in June 2008 which has now been approved by the Parliament.
The measure could save up to €3bn over the next decade.
Marian-Jean Marinescu, one of the leading MEP supporters of the measure, said:"By 2012, we will have a Schengen of the sky.
"Flight routes will be shorter, air traffic control more efficient, and air navigation will be optimised and integrated.
"As a direct consequence, less fuel will be burned and emissions would decrease significantly - all of these changes should bring a reduction in the price of tickets."
Antonio Tajani, the EC transport commissioner, said in the Parliamentary debate: "We are sending a strong signal to our citizens, those working in the aviation sector and the industry itself.
"These proposals lead to a modernisation of air traffic management, which will render air transport more feasible, more sustainable and safer."
The measure was also welcomed by the European Low Fares Airline Association.
Its secretary general, John Hanlon, said: "ELFAA sees SES II as the most vital legislative initiative in the field of aviation in the current parliamentary term, and has strongly supported the more ambitious elements of it proposed by the Commission and the Parliament, including effective performance regulation of Europe's air navigation service providers."