Letter: Air traffic investment

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your headline and report "Partial sell-off will delay passengers, say air officials" (9 October) is in fact the opposite of what we told the Select Committee.

The evidence Sir Roy McNulty, my chairman, and I have presented consistently to the Government and the Transport Sub Committee, is that any delay in putting in place a public-private partnership for air traffic services will bring misery for the flying public.

As you point out, air traffic continues to grow, year on year, by 7 per cent. We will need more air traffic controllers than we employ today. The only way of avoiding flight delays is to have access to sufficient capital - some pounds 1bn over the next ten years - to ensure we continue to grow, invest in people, technology and capacity, to prevent us falling into the same trap as Europe, where soaring delays have become routine.

We will simply not be able to cope with future traffic growth without this scale of investment because the rigorous safety procedures we operate to, enforced by the Civil Aviation Authority, will always determine the number of aircraft we can safely handle. Very quickly, delays will be counted in hours rather than in minutes.

BILL SEMPLE

Chief Executive

National Air Traffic Services Ltd

London WC2

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