NATS controllers expect to handle record flight movements this summer


UK-based NATS has reported that air traffic controllers at its Prestwick Centre expect to handle approximately 267,000 flight movements during July and August, which would be 15,000 more than last year’s figures.

The air navigation service provider (ANSP) also claimed that significant growth is expected across Scotland’s major airports.

Glasgow Airport has reported a 10% growth in passenger traffic in May 2017 compared to the same month last year.

Separately, Edinburgh Airport has registered a year-on-year increase of approximately 11%.

NATS Prestwick director Alastair Muir said: “A huge amount of preparation goes into being ready for the summer with NATS working with the airports and airlines.

“It’s our busiest time of year and we’re looking forward to getting people away safely for a well-earned break, but traffic growth continues to outpace forecasts year-on-year.”

Muir has expressed concerns about Scotland's air traffic capacity, which is nearing its limit within the existing infrastructure.

"The design of Scotland’s airspace is decades old and doesn’t allow us to take advantage of the technology onboard modern aircraft that would raise capacity."

NATS is currently spending more than £600m to implement new technology that will help increase the capacity, in order to avoid flight delays in the future.

Muir added: “The design of Scotland’s airspace is decades old and doesn’t allow us to take advantage of the technology onboard modern aircraft that would raise capacity, but also reduce emissions and noise for communities on the ground.”

In addition to causing inconvenience to passengers, flight delays could damage Scotland's economy, NATS noted.

The ANSP has urged the government to support plans to upgrade the country’s airspace, in order to accommodate the 3.1 million flights expected by 2030.


Image: NATS’ Prestwick air traffic control centre in Scotland. Photo: courtesy of NATS.