Wishart urges government to halt ATC centralisation
MSP Beatrice Wishart has called on islands minister Paul Wheelhouse to end the controversial plan to centralise air traffic control of Sumburgh Airport to the mainland.
Ms Wishart led a debate in Holyrood on Thursday and said that people in Shetland had “genuine concerns” for safety once control was switched to Inverness, and had expressed frustration at a lack of consultation in the process.
A survey from the Prospect union had shown that 94 per cent of its members were opposed to the remote tower proposals, according to Ms Wishart, while 82 per cent of air traffic controllers said that they would consider leaving Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (Hial) if the plans were to come to fruition.
Transport secretary, Michael Matheson, stressed the need for modernisation of air traffic control services and encouraged Hial to continue to engage with its members as the project develops.
While Ms Wishart agreed that there was a need for modernisation, she argued that remote control towers were “not the only option” available to Hial.
“From the outset, Hial has failed to consult properly with staff members and wider communities, to the point that some air traffic control staff are now actively seeking to leave the organisation.
“That is unacceptable from a government owned body serving the Highlands and Islands.”
Hial last week announced plans to control the airspace around Sumburgh Airport from New Century House in Inverness from 2023.