Isles jobs saved as remote tower proposals are scrapped

Plans to introduce remote towers that would lead to the migration of jobs from Sumburgh to Inverness have been abandoned.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited have agreed a new strategic direction for the controversial Air Traffic Management Strategy (ATMS).

It follows a meeting of the Hial board earlier this week.

The new approach will see the development of a centralised surveillance operation for Sumburgh, as well as Kirkwall, Stornoway, Inverness and Dundee Airports.

Hial says that will be based at its existing approach radar facility in Inverness.

However, air traffic tower services will continue to be provided locally.

The Prospect Union, which represents air traffic controllers, will now ballot its members on the acceptance of the revised proposal.

Chairwoman of Hial Lorna Jack said: “We’ve listened to the feedback from our colleagues and island communities in reaching our decision.

“This alternative delivery of the ATMS programme will provide enhanced safety and resilience to our operations and retain air traffic controllers on the islands.

“While this sets the future strategic direction for the programme, the board recognises that further detailed work will be required with colleagues before a comprehensive business case can be presented to Transport Scotland. This will include a review of our island impact assessment.”

The move has been welcomed by David Avery of the Prospect Union.

“This decision is an important one for Prospect members and hopefully brings to an end our long-running dispute with Hial over remote towers.

“We welcome Hial’s commitment to modernising air traffic control services in a way that works for staff, communities and the business.

“I want to thank everyone who has helped us to reach this outcome. It would not have happened without the dedicated campaigning of Prospect members, and without the widespread support of communities and politicians across the affected areas.

“We look forward to working with Hial to bring through these modernisations.”


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