Lift cash burdens on NATS, say controllers


Lift cash burdens on NATS, say controllers

Commenting on Thursday's Civil Aviation Authority announcement on air traffic control charges, David Luxton, Prospect's aviation officer said: “After Railtrack and British Energy, the aviation industry cannot afford the risk of NATS going into administration.

“It is essential for air safety that NATS has a robust and sustainable financial structure. The current financial crisis in NATS has delayed essential capital investment in new systems that are capacity and safety-critical, including a substantial delay to the badly-needed new Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre at Prestwick.

“Prospect looks to the CAA regulator to insist that the Government, the banks and the Airline Group act immediately to:

- Take NATS out of the negative equity debt burden caused by privatisation. Even if all £130m of new monies go towards relieving debt NATS will still owe £600m – a huge burden to service, let alone reduce.

- Remove the requirement to deliver £200m cost savings in NATS. NATS has never been able to prove its ability to deliver such savings without compromising safety.

- Bring an end to the penny-pinching culture in NATS which threatens to compromise safety, capacity and future industrial relations.”

Prospect says that increased income is vital to fund investment in equipment and staff. “The training, skills and conditions of air traffic controllers and engineers are crucial to the ATC system,” said Luxton. “NATS must have the financial flexibility and strength to cope with any further downturn in air traffic volumes whilst being able to continue its essential £100m-a-year investment programme.”