Air management

HIAL and Prospect in talks on a possible air management alternative

Under HIAL’s proposals, air traffic controllers would be replaced at Kirkwall Airport and services would be diverted to a central hub in Inverness.

Talks are underway on a possible ‘alternative method of delivery’ on a controversial Air Traffic Management Strategy (ATMS) that involves the centralization of control services in Inverness.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) plans have come under heavy criticism from politicians, local authorities and unions – all of whom have urged the government and HIAL to backtrack on the plans.

According to the proposals, controllers at Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Stornoway, Dundee and Inverness would be replaced by remote control technology, in the form of fiber optic links and cameras.

HIAL has been unwavering in its commitment to the project, which it has always said is the only option in its mission to modernize services and ensure air connectivity in the Highlands and Islands.

However, in a joint statement, the airport operator and Prospect, the union that represents air traffic controllers, said discussions on a possible alternative were underway.

Any proposal will be subject to consultation with union members and wider HIAL stakeholders.

David Avery, negotiating agent for Prospect, and Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL, said “constructive” talks took place on Friday, September 10, leading to the breakthrough.

Controllers were leading industrial actions, including strikes to protest the plans, but strike action has now been suspended while talks take place.

Mr. Lyon said: “HIAL and Prospect are discussing a possible alternative delivery method for the ATMS project. Any proposal will be subject to consultation with union members and broader HIAL stakeholders.

“We have engaged with Prospect to find a solution to resolve the current collective action. I met with Prospect on Friday September 10 to discuss the implementation of our air traffic modernization program.

“The discussions have been constructive, and we will now move forward with more detailed discussions.”