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NATS members in Brussels protest

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NATS members take single sky protest to Brussels

The campaign by staff within national air traffic control provider NATS against new proposals for a Single European Sky (SES2+) stepped up a gear in recent weeks with members receiving over 100 responses to their letters to MPs and MSPs.



Controllers and air traffic systems specialists also met Department of Transport representatives last month to express the strength of feeling over the plans, in particular proposals to separate support and navigation services, which has led NATS unions to consider industrial action in protest.

SES2+ aims to create functional airspace blocks organised according to traffic flow rather than national borders. The European Commission, which regulates all European airspace, aims to use the proposals, coupled with stringent performance targets, to halve air traffic management costs by 2020.

But members fear it will lead to:

  • the centralising and outsourcing of ancillary services, such as communications, navigation and surveillance systems
  • a poorer service to airlines and passengers
  • the widespread loss of jobs
  • the UK's loss of control over its own airspace.

Prospect members in NATS, along with other air traffic management affiliates of the European Transport Federation, are also planning to protest outside the European Parliament on 14 October to coincide with the first debate over the proposals by the parliament's transport committee.

National secretary Emily Boase said: "The effects of SES2+ will not only be felt by our members, but also colleagues across Europe who are also likely to see their terms and conditions threatened causing significant unrest across the industry.

"It is vital that the UK government adds its voice to those of the French and German governments and opposes these plans. Without significant opposition this draft legislation could become law as early as spring."

Clarification:

A story in July issue of Profile, regarding CAA claims that the tower control NATS provides to eight UK airports is uncompetitive, claimed that NATS is the only accredited training and assessment facility for UK controllers.

While NATS is the sole provider of en-route air traffic control training, there are other accredited providers of air traffic control training in the UK, and we are happy to clarify the position.