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Chamber and committees

Motion ref. S5M-20382

The Proposed Centralisation of Air Traffic Control in the Highlands and Islands

Submitted by: Beatrice Wishart, Shetland Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Date lodged: Friday, January 10, 2020

Supported by: Alexander Burnett, Donald Cameron, Alex Cole-Hamilton, Neil Findlay, John Finnie, Maurice Golden, Rhoda Grant, Jamie Halcro Johnston, Liam McArthur, Mike Rumbles, Colin Smyth
Current status: Taken in the Chamber on Thursday, January 23, 2020

That the Parliament notes the reported widespread concern in response to plans by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) to centralise air traffic control (ATC) services in Inverness through the use of remote towers; acknowledges what it sees as the importance of ensuring that ATC services are modernised and remain fit for purpose, but believes that this must be balanced with the safety of passengers, the reliability of lifeline services and the need to sustain high-skilled jobs in island communities; understands that the proposed remote tower option being pursued was identified by HIAL's own advisers as carrying the greatest potential risk and cost; believes that many HIAL employees and stakeholders feel that they have not been properly consulted or that their concerns have been taken on board; considers that HIAL’s ability to implement its remote tower model requires it to be able to convince existing staff to support the changes and that the level of dissatisfaction currently felt among ATC staff is likely to exacerbate any recruitment and retention problems and risks; believes that the reported recent communications failures at HIAL's airports serve to reinforce the concerns that have been expressed about its proposed centralisation model; considers that these proposals will have a detrimental impact on communities in the islands, and notes the calls on the Scottish Government to instruct HIAL to halt the remote tower project and pursue other options for modernisation.