Letter: Air-traffic partners

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The Independent Culture
Sir: You represent a speech delivered in October by Bob Ayling, chief executive of British Airways, as an attack on the public-private partnership for National Air Traffic Services (NATS) ("BA chief attacks `profits first' plans for air traffic sell-off", 8 December).

The reality is that British Airways is and has always been supportive of the Government's objectives for NATS and has said this publicly many times. In particular, we support the public-private partnership as the most suitable model to ensure the long-term investment that NATS needs.

We are at the forefront of an industry group championing the public-private partnership. In fact the very night before your article was published this industry group attended a meeting of Labour backbenchers and gave evidence in support of the Government's plans.

Our main priority, like the Government's, is to ensure that the right strategic partner is found for NATS and that the service's excellent safety record is maintained and built upon through investment and development.

There is no reason why this should not be achieved by a private sector investor who is committed to safety as an overriding priority.

British Airways has been a private company for years. We believe that safety has not been compromised here.


Head of Communications

British Airways

Harmondsworth, Middlesex