Responding to a call from Transport Secretary Philip Hammond for evidence to support government plans to divest itself of some or all of its stake in NATS, Garry Graham, Prospect’s National Secretary for Aviation, said:
“We have been consistent in saying that this is a route which the UK government should not go down. A safe, efficient and effective air traffic control system is crucial not only to the UK economy but also to every member of the travelling public.
“But this proposed sale has nothing to do with supporting that system, having, in fact, caused increasing alarm across wider aviation stakeholders and airlines since its inclusion in the March budget.
“We have yet to hear one argument as to why any potential sell-off is in the interests of our members or, crucially, air traffic management service delivery for the UK. Instead, for the UK to have a credible voice in Europe, and to ensure that safety and service delivery remain absolutely paramount, it is vital that the government retains a significant stake within NATS.”
Graham said members were deeply concerned that full-scale privatisation would lead to a drive for profits and dividends which would undermine the delivery of UK air traffic control.
NATS handles 2.2m flights a year and, in 2009-10, reduced attributable delays to an all-time low of 4.3 seconds per flight. It receives no public subsidy and is a net contributor to the Exchequer, generating £100m in profits last year.