John Finnie MSP, Scottish Greens Transport and Islands Spokesperson, this week questioned the Scottish Government on Highlands and Islands Airports Limited’s (HIAL) proposals to centralise air traffic management.
HIAL, which is owned by Scottish Ministers, has proposed a number of controversial changes in its Air Traffic Management 2030 Strategy, which would have significant impacts, particularly for island airports.
Mr Finnie questioned the Minister for Transport and Islands on the topic at the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, highlighting concerns raised by trade union Prospect and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Following the committee meeting John Finnie said:
“There are a number of serious concerns about the impact HIAL’s proposals could have on island communities. One major impact is the likelihood of losing highly skilled jobs throughout our islands, an issue rightly vexing Prospect, the air traffic controllers’ trade union.
“I completely understand HIAL’s need to upgrade its infrastructure, however any centralised system will require a reliable and secure communication system between the mainland and the islands. No such system exists at the moment.
“HIAL’s community engagement has been abysmal. Not only in relation to this proposal, but also recently in relation to proposed parking charges at island airports. I was therefore pleased that the Minister committed to ensuring that proper public consultation will take place. HIAL cannot simply march ahead with such wide ranging proposals without considering the impact it will have on the communities it is supposed to support.”