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Air traffic staff dismayed at heavy-handed regulation

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Air traffic staff dismayed at heavy-handed regulation

On behalf of 3,500 air traffic controllers and engineers, Prospect national secretary David Luxton expressed disappointment at the CAA's new price controls for NATS.



His comments follow today’s (Tuesday) interim proposals from the aviation regulator for air traffic control charges over the next five years.

Luxton said: "We are dismayed that the CAA have put price reductions ahead of quality of service and investment. This is a short-sighted approach that could rebound on the future of the business. Any delay to the investment programme will lead to a drop in income as service delivery declines in the face of rising levels of air traffic.

"This is a repeat of what happened at the time of privatisation, when the CAA similarly proposed over-ambitious price reductions which had to be revised upward after both NATS and Prospect warned that they would jeopardise safety standards."

In its evidence to the CAA’s consultation exercise, the union warned that the period of the price-control review (2006-2011) would be critical to the strategic development of NATS as it focuses on delivering the most ambitious, but essential, investment programme ever undertaken to modernise and replace the whole air traffic management infrastructure.

Without it NATS will be unable to meet future challenges such as the Single European Sky and reductions in NATS’ attributable delays.

"We urge the regulator to bear in mind that people are as important as capital expenditure in ensuring the delivery of high quality air traffic services. None of the work to upgrade the air traffic infrastructure will be possible without a motivated workforce," said Luxton.

"Up to two thirds of NATS’ employees face relocation in the next few years over considerable distances. In addition staff face mounting pressure managing levels in air traffic growth not seen since the 1990s while bringing new engineering projects on-line. Any attempts at penny-pinching will have a detrimental effect on this uniquely skilled workforce."