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HIAL publish remote towers and overall ATMS costs

The Kirkwall Airport control tower.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) has published a breakdown of figures relating to its air traffic management strategy (ATMS).

More than £9million has been spent on ATMS to modernise air traffic control services in the Highlands and Islands — but HIAL came underfire recently when the news that the procurement exercise for its remote towers plan had been cancelled.

ATMS is a complex programme of change consisting of several individual projects, of which the remote towers plan is one.

The plan to centralise air traffic control from five airports including Kirkwall to an Inverness-based hub has been scrapped for now amid continued discussions between HIAL and Prospect union that represents the air traffic controllers.

Figures show that £228,953 had been spent on the tower solution up to the end of November.

New Century House — the proposed centre for all aspects of ATMS programme including the remote towers and a centralised surveillance operation — was purchased for £2.6million.

Over £2.2million has been spent on staff costs relating to ATMS.

Around £324,000 has been spent on the purchase of a training simulator and centre set up costs, while more than £700,000 has been spent on building design, renovation and other works.

Other costs include £45,470 on surveillance, £102,772 on engineering readiness, £28,764 on connectivity, £106,294 on safety assurance and £40,376 on an engineering service strategy.

The figures also reveal that £538,130 has been spent on professional/consultancy fees for ATMS so far.

HIAL say: “ATMS is a complex and significant change management project. It is a long-term programme consisting of several individual workstreams, of which the remote towers element is one.

“The financial investment in the programme thus far provides a stable platform to move forward with the essential modernisation of air traffic services in the Highlands and Islands.

“The investment is already benefiting the organisation and providing resilience through the recruitment of seven Ab-initio staff (trainee air traffic controllers) for the modernisation programme and who are supporting operations for Sumburgh, Dundee, Wick and Kirkwall airports.”

HIAL has also invested further in the training of our air traffic colleagues by purchasing an air traffic simulator and recruiting an in-house training team, who are currently located at New Century House.”

HIAL add that they are “hopeful” of reaching an agreement with Prospect when the HIAL board meet this week.