Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has outlined concerns on proposals from Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL) to discuss their plans to move to a system of Remote Air Traffic Control Towers.

In a recent letter to HIAL’s Managing Director, Alasdair Allan has questioned HIAL over the justifications for this proposal, and raised concerns about the economic impact this could have in Benbecula and Stornoway.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“When I met with HIAL’s Managing Director and Chair about this proposal earlier this month, I was keen to stress that there are concerns about the potential for the islands to lose high-quality well-paid jobs. My Westminster colleague Angus MacNeil MP and I have met with members of the workforces who are concerned not only about future employment, but also about how feasible or desirable such a system would be in the long run. HIAL have cited recruitment challenges as one of the motivations for this proposal, but this is an issue the industry as a whole faces and it is hard to accept this is something unique to the islands.

“It is also troubling that Benbecula is earmarked as the first airport to transition to remote operation. It would appear to be one of the airports with the best level of staff retention, minimal maintenance costs and it has the additional complication of significant military activity at both the airport and in the surrounding area.

“While I welcome the fact HIAL have agreed to undertake a social impact assessment, there are still a great number of question marks around this proposal, and I hope that they will engage further with key stakeholders and the affected communities on these points.”

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