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More strikes at Scottish airports ruled out for now in air traffic control row

Planes on the ground at Inverness Airport. Photo: Sandy McCook/DCT Media
Planes on the ground at Inverness Airport. Photo: Sandy McCook/DCT Media

Talks are being held about an alternative method of air traffic management in an attempt to end strike action at six Scottish airports.

Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) has been locked in talks with union Prospect about proposals to centralise operations in Inverness.

However, concerns have been raised that the plans to take air traffic control jobs away from island communities will have a substantial impact on rural economies.

What is the dispute about?

The dispute has already led to strike action at Hial-operated airports in Inverness, Dundee, Stornoway, Kirkwall, Sumburgh and Benbecula.

Concerns about moving operations from the airports in Shetland, Orkney, Dundee, Stornoway and Inverness to a remotely-operated surveillance centre in the Highland capital have led to the fall-out.

Inverness Airport. Photo: Sandy McCook/DCT Media

Hial says the move will help deliver sustainable aviation and a more flexible service, but concerns have been raised about the loss of skilled jobs in rural communities.

Now it is hoped that a possible alternate method of air traffic control can avert future industrial action, which has already been ongoing since January.

Negotiations, described as “constructive” by both sides, were held last week with further talks due to take place about the new proposals.

No strike action will take place while the discussions continue.

What are both sides saying?

David Avery, Prospect’s negotiation officer, said: “Prospect had a constructive meeting with Hial on September 10 and we have agreed to further talks to find a mutually agreeable solution to modernising air traffic control services in the Highlands and islands.

“Prospect has agreed that there will be no further days of strike while these talks are ongoing.”

Planes at Stornoway Airport. Photo: Sandy McCook/DCT Media

Inglis Lyon, Hial’s managing director, said: “We have been engaging with Prospect to find a solution to resolve the current industrial action.

“I met with Prospect on Friday, September 10, to discuss the implementation of our air traffic modernisation programme.

“The discussions were constructive, and we will now move forward with more detailed talks.”

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