Consider alternatives to NATS privatisation

Gavin Strang MP will today address a conference of the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists (IPMS). The conference of the Air Traffic Controllers will be held at IMPS Headquarters, York Road, London SE1 from 11am today, Thursday 22 July.

Speaking in advance of the Conference, Gavin Strang MP said in Westminster:
‘The government would be wise not to put air traffic control privatisation in this year’s Queens Speech for three reasons.

· ‘People will not believe that privatisation is the best way to ensure that our air traffic controllers can keep our increasingly crowded skies as safe as possible.

· ‘Privatisation would distract NATS from the massive workload currently underway. NATS’ ability to do its job hinges upon new systems at Swanwick and Prestwick becoming operational. But these new centres are already delayed and there are many hurdles yet to overcome. Rather than being entangled in a complex privatisation, NATS’ management time should be focused upon making sure that the new systems are fully operational without further delay.

· ‘NATS has a vital role in protecting our national security. On a daily basis the RAF work in our airspace. In a national emergency the government must be able to seize immediate, unqualified control of UK air traffic control. Security is undoubtedly one reason why no other government has gone down the privatisation route – not the USA, not New Zealand, and not any other European Union country.

‘Privatisation would not free the public purse from a financial drain, as NATS is self-financing. Nor would it introduce competition – incoming planes would not be able to select air traffic control services.

‘Ministers would save valuable legislative time and avoid undesirable repercussions if it decided not to proceed with the privatisation of our air traffic control.’