Air traffic controllers dismayed at new delay targets


Air traffic controllers dismayed at new delay targets

The union representing air traffic controllers today expressed “deep dismay” at the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulator to impose tough new targets and financial penalties for flight delays attributable to air traffic control.

The CAA announced on 12 June that it now requires National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to achieve an average annual delay of no more than 1.2 minutes across approximately the 2 million flights it handles each year, despite being told by NATS that such a target was “unattainable except in abnormal circumstances.”

On behalf of the 2,300 NATS air traffic controllers represented by Prospect, National Secretary David Luxton said: “We are dismayed that the regulator has dismissed air traffic controllers’ concerns that the 1.2 minutes delay target could impact on safety. It will result in more pressure on controllers to increase the hourly flow of flights through the busy sectors of airspace.

“It will also place further financial pressure on NATS if the target is not met when NATS is already struggling to find £25m of further cost savings this financial year. The CAA’s decision means it could now face penalties of up to £10m for failing to meet an unrealistic and unattainable delay target.

“Economic regulation of NATS should not be considered in isolation from safety regulation, particularly while there continues to be an acute shortage of controllers at the main en-route air traffic centre at Swanwick, which has been a major cause of delays.”