Prospect has paid tribute to the professionalism of members working as London Gatwick air traffic control officers (ATCOs) and systems engineers, many of whom have today transferred to ANS, a subsidiary of Deutsch Flugsicherung (DFS), the German state-owned service provider.
The award of the 10-year contract by Gatwick’s owner GAL was announced in July 2014 following a tender process. The service has been provided by the UK’s part-privatised NATS until now.
Over the last 18 months Prospect has worked closely with both ANS and NATS to ensure the transfer was completed as smoothly as possible.
Stu Osman, chair of the Prospect’s ATCOs branch Airports section, and a Gatwick ATCO, said: “The attitude of our members during this process has been a credit to our profession. Everyone has ensured that the focus on the operation has remained high.
“This included the team breaking the airport's traffic-handling record in summer 2015 - all against the background of a huge change pending to their employment environment. The timescales have been incredibly challenging and the debates sometimes difficult but everyone has pulled together to make things work.”
The transition at Gatwick closely follows a similar situation at Birmingham Airport which took its air traffic control provision in house during 2015 following the end of a contract previously held by NATS.
While emphasising good relations with ANS, Prospect national secretary Steve Jary pointed out that NATS could not tender for air traffic control services in most other EU countries, including Germany.
“The liberalised ATC market in the UK is still unique within Europe,” Jary said. “We’re the only country that has allowed true competition at all of its airports while other EU countries have elected to only privatise certain locations or to retain them completely under government control.
“Prospect has successfully managed to negotiate excellent terms and conditions for staff at Gatwick and Birmingham, both with newly established companies. The working relationships we have established are excellent, allowing us to show that the professionalism of our members, and the value they bring to an ATC business, are key to the success of any commercial strategy."
Prospect represents around 5,000 aviation specialists across NATS, the Civil Aviation Authority, UK airports and commercial airlines.
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