Local MSP John Finnie, Scottish Greens has serious worries over proposed plans by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) to centralise their air traffic control operations in Inverness.
John Finnie said:
“It is imperative that these highly skilled jobs are retained across the Highlands and Islands, rather than be centralised in Inverness.
Commenting on the concerns raised by the trade union Prospect which represents air traffic controllers, he said:
“I understand Prospect’s concerns around any potential job losses, or indeed any future post deletion, given the single site decision.
“It would be interesting to understand what consideration, if any, was given to decentralising this proposal providing all the jobs in the Western or Northern isles.
“While understandable that HIAL wish to modernise its air traffic control operation it must ensure that any changes to the current model prioritise the safe operation of its airports.”
Prospect aviation officer in Scotland David Avery said:
“Prospect supports HIALs need to modernise its infrastructure to keep up pace with regulations and that this will require significant investment. However, any centralised monitoring system will be dependent on a reliable, resilient and secure communications infrastructure between the mainland and the islands which simply does not exist. HIAL are gambling on this, and Prospect believes this is gambling with people’s safety.”
“Air Traffic Control provides high quality skilled, highly paid employment in the islands with many controllers recruited and trained locally. Centralisation will remove these roles from the islands. We do not believe the report has given sufficient weight to these considerations and HIAL roles as an employer in the Highlands and Islands.”
John Finnie further commented on the use of Wick airport to transfer nuclear material to the USA.
“Wick airport is currently used to transfer nuclear material to the USA. I have been working with Highlands Against Nuclear Transport to highlight these nuclear flights in recent times and while my preference is that this extremely dangerous practice is stopped immediately, HIAL have a responsibility to ensure that the highest safety standards are observed while these nuclear flights continue to take off.”