Air Traffic Controllers to Continue Industrial Action

Air Traffic Controllers for Highlands and islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) who are members of the Prospect trade union have voted overwhelmingly to renew their mandate for industrial action in opposition to the controversial ATMS remote towers project.

The air traffic controllers have been engaged in a limited industrial action since January which includes an overtime ban, refusal to cooperate with the remote towers project, and a refusal to assist in the training for new recruits.

The vote will renew this action and contains the possibility for future strike action in protest at the project which would see the removal of well paid highly skilled jobs from the islands.

HIAL is a company wholly owned by Scottish Government Ministers.

Prospect negotiator David Avery said:

“Prospect members have signalled with this vote that they are determined to stand firm against this disastrous project.

“We support modernisation of air traffic control, but the case for remote towers has been comprehensively demolished from every angle and yet HIAL and Scottish Government Ministers simply refuse to consider the alternative options.

“The project it opposed by staff, local communities, local politicians and independent experts- it is time for HIAL to read the room and seriously engage with alternative proposals.”

The decision to continue with the project has come under fire from all sides after a damning Islands Impact Assessment showing the substantial negatives of the project for islands economies and an equally critical report into HIAL’s project management.

A parliamentary question from MSP Beatrice Wishart this week found that Scottish Government ministers had still not discussed the Islands Impact Assessment, despite it being received by HIAL in November and published in March.

Asked by: Beatrice Wishart, Shetland Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Date lodged: 13 May 2021


To ask the Scottish Government on which dates (a) Ministers and (b) officials met with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) (i) management or (ii) representatives to discuss the outcomes of the Island Communities Impact Assessment on air traffic control, and whether it will share the minutes and outcomes from those meetings.

Current status: Answered by Graeme Dey on 26 May 2021


Ministers have not discussed the outcomes of the Island Communities Impact Assessment on HIAL’s Air Traffic Management 2030 Strategy with HIAL. Officials attended the HIAL Board meeting on 25 February 2021 where the issue was discussed. The minutes of the meeting are available on the HIAL web site at .

‘A Pandora’s Box of Unnecessary Risks’ HIAL’s Remote Towers Project

The Orkney News has several archived stories relating to HIAL’s Remote Towers project.

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