The union representing air traffic controllers is suspending its industrial action over centralisation following an agreement with Highlands and Islands Airports limited (Hial) on a “framework for discussion”.
The news offers hope the long-running dispute over Hial’s controversial Air Traffic Management Strategy could soon be resolved.
Talks will focus on the introduction of a surveillance programme across the Hial network, with services being provided locally for its duration.
Both parties have been engaged in discussions to seek a mutually agreeable approach.
Talks are said to have been constructive, with both Hial and Prospect agreeing a middle ground to move the discussions forward.
Prospect’s negotiation officer David Avery said: “We welcome the decision of the Hial board to work with their staff and communities to find a solution which not only delivers safety improvements but also protects local jobs and services.
“Prospect has always said that it wants to work with Hial to come up with the best way to improve air traffic control services in the Highlands and Islands.
“This is a good step forward which we hope will eventually form the template for a safer and more effective ATMS while retaining most of the jobs and skills in remote communities.
“On behalf of members, I would like to thank everyone who has supported Prospect members’ campaign to bring about this new approach to air traffic services across Hial”
Hial’s managing director Inglis Lyon said a “significant and positive step” had been taken.
“We are pleased that Prospect has suspended the industrial action.
“This will allow the discussions to move forward without further disruption to our passengers and airlines.
“This compromise will help both parties minimise the impact of the air traffic management programme on our communities and colleagues whilst continuing with key elements of the modernisation programme.
”Our airports provide lifeline and essential services and ensuring a safe and resilient air traffic management system that will future-proof our airports remain our priority. The work we will undertake over the next few months will help us meet that objective.
“While there is much work to do before we have a final proposal, we are pleased with the progress that has been made. It is important that we have the time and space to continue these constructive talks and develop the proposal.”