SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Highlands and Islands Airports that any decisions about the future of Benbecula’s air traffic control service will be delayed for five years.

HIAL have said that they are awaiting the publication of new Civil Aviation Authority regulations, so that these can be considered in the decision-making process about both Benbecula and Wick John O’ Groats airports.

This means that Benbecula airport will retain its current service level and its air traffic control jobs for the next five years at least, when a decision will be made based on the conclusions of the working group. HIAL’s ATMS programme had indicated the air traffic control service at Benbecula and Wick John O’ Groats airports would become a flight information service instead, aligning them with the system already in place at HIAL’s smallest airports.

Commenting, Allan said:

“Following HIAL’s confirmation at the end of January that air traffic control jobs would remain in Stornoway as opposed to moving to Inverness, yesterday’s news for Benbecula is very welcome indeed.

“I would like to take a moment to recognise the efforts of Prospect union, but also of local campaigners in Benbecula, throughout the Western Isles and beyond, not least those who brought this issue before the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee so that the impact of HIAL’s ATMS proposals on our islands could be properly scrutinised.

“It is vital for the future of our communities that skilled jobs, such as air traffic control roles, are kept in the islands as opposed to being centralised. It is also essential that the right decisions are made, with thorough staff and stakeholder input, with regards to the safest and most effective type of service for Benbecula airport.”


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