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Air traffic controllers vote to continue industrial action

Air traffic controllers at Kirkwall Airport will continue industrial action in opposition to the controversial HIAL remote towers project.

Air traffic controllers for Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) have voted overwhelmingly to renew their mandate for industrial action in opposition to the controversial 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 beleaguered air traffic management strategy project.

This week, The Orcadian reported that HIAL was standing firm over their plans to centralise air traffic control to a hub in Inverness even after a review identified major weaknesses in the project surrounding governance, the resource level provided to the project, and a lack of transparency.

The decision to continue with the project has also come under fire after a damning Islands Impact Assessment and an equally critical report into HIAL’s project management.

A parliamentary question from Shetland 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.

HIAL insist that the project is the only viable option in order to safeguard the future of island air services.

David Avery from Prospect, the union which represents the controllers, 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.”