Air traffic staff resume campaign against sale

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The Independent Online

Air traffic control staff will today again call on the Government to drop plans to sell off 51 per cent of National Air Traffic Services (Nats) to the private sector and instead transfer air traffic control operations to a not-for-profit trust.

Air traffic control staff will today again call on the Government to drop plans to sell off 51 per cent of National Air Traffic Services (Nats) to the private sector and instead transfer air traffic control operations to a not-for-profit trust.

In a report sent to ministers ahead of the third reading in the House of Lords of the Transport Bill, Lord Brett, the former general secretary of IMPS, the air traffic controllers, dismisses suggestions that a trust would be unworkable.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is due to announce its bidders' shortlist next month. Those still thought to be interested include Raytheon and Lockheed Martin of the US; Serco, the facilities management company; and a consortium of eight UK airlines and BT.

The report is based on a study of NavCanada, an independent trust set up in 1997 by the Canadian government to handle air traffic control. Lord Brett visited Canada in August where he met NavCanada, the Canadian government, airlines and air traffic control staff.

Paul Noon, IMPS general secretary, said yesterday: "The Government has been very disparaging about the Canadian experience, which is why Lord Brett went out at his own expense to see for himself. He found that the Canadian trust has done everything it has been asked to do."

The report says that the trust has managed to increase investment, lower operating costs, reduce landing charges for airlines, increase recruitment and improve safety. Lord Brett also claims the trust solution would yield more revenue than the public/private scheme.

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