Investment warning as air traffic delays fall

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The Independent Online
THE NUMBER of air traffic control delays has been sharply reduced but this improvement will be jeopardised if the Government cuts investment in new technology, the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority warned yesterday, writes Christian Wolmar.

The delays of the late 1980s have largely come to an end, thanks to an increase in the number of air traffic controllers, new technology and better international liaison between controllers.

Even though London air traffic controllers are handling a record number of aircraft movements - the peak was on 3 July with 4,289 movements - delays are sharply down from last year. Both international and domestic outbound flights experienced an average delay of seven minutes in May and June, compared with 14 and 20 minutes respectively at the same time last year.

Derek McLauchlan, chief executive of National Air Traffic Services, said domestic flights from Glasgow were experiencing average delays of one or two minutes by October 1992 compared with 20 minutes six months earlier.

However, Christopher Chataway, the CAA's chairman, warned: 'If there is not to be a return to 1980s sort of delays or worse delays in the late 1990s, it is essential we carry through our investment programme and that depends on loan approval from the Government.'

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