NATS lose Gatwick contract


Gatwick air traffic controllers’ dismay at losing contract

Prospect air traffic control and engineering and systems specialist members at Gatwick Airport reacted with dismay at the news that NATS has lost the Gatwick contract.

Germany’s state-owned airspace controller, Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) won the 10-year contract to run air traffic services at the UK’s second-busiest airport from October 2015.

Gatwick is the biggest UK airport to consider moving oversight of its airspace to a foreign provider.

Prospect represents 1,800 air traffic control officers and more than 800 air traffic systems specialists in NATS.

Speaking on behalf of 40 air traffic controllers and 12 engineers at Gatwick Prospect national secretary Emily Boase said: “We share NATS’ disappointment that their highly competitive bid was unsuccessful. With 55 movements an hour, NATS has provided tower support at Gatwick for over 30 years, building it to the point where it significantly out-performs every other single runway airport in the world.

“It is significant that a German provider has come into the UK market. It demonstrates how competitive it has become in recent years. With NATS also losing the Birmingham contract in 2013 we are concerned that price must not become the only driver for change as newcomers bid for future airport contracts.

“The UK needs a sustainable airport market that provides good quality, secure air traffic management jobs with pay, terms and conditions that reflect the specialist skills required. This needs to be backed by a commitment to invest in infrastructure and technology for this safety critical industry.

“Prospect will support members to ensure that the transition to the new employer is as smooth as possible and has minimal impact on their operational day to day duties.”
Gatwick is wholly-owned by Ivy Bidco Limited (Ivy). Ivy is ultimately controlled by Global Infrastructure Partners. GIP has a 42% controlling stake in Gatwick.

The other shareholders are the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, National Pension Service of Korea, California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Future Fund of Australia.

The Civil Aviation Authority will have to approve the change.