NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services) has been reappointed as the air traffic service provider at Gatwick Airport after 6 years, following the expiration of the current provider Air Navigation Solutions Limited’s contract.

NATS, is the UK’s principal air navigation services provider and is split into two businesses, which provide two distinct services.

NATS (NERL) is a regulated business, which provides air traffic management services to aircraft within UK airspace and over the eastern part of the North Atlantic. NATS (NSL) is an unregulated business, which provides air traffic control services at many of the UK’s major airports (15 civil including Gatwick and 7 military airfields) and other airports overseas.

The transition from the previous provider occurred overnight on 8-9 October, with all the existing controllers transferring across to NATS. It means the air traffic service at all five major London airports is being delivered by NATS for the first time since 2016.

Working in partnership with the airport, NATS will now concentrate on building the resilience of the air traffic operation. With up to 55 aircraft movements per hour off its single runway, Gatwick is one of the most challenging airports in the world to be an air traffic controller. A plan to train and recruit new and experienced controllers is already underway and will begin delivering in the coming months.

“NATS comes with a world-beating reputation for providing air traffic control service. We’re looking forward to working closely together to build resilience in the years ahead, which of course will benefit our passengers, airlines, employees, and the region’s wider economy,” said Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO.

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“I would like to pass on my gratitude to Air Navigation Solutions Limited for supplying air traffic control services at the airport over the past six years.”

NATS also plans to work with the industry-leading company, Searidge Technologies, to evaluate the potential use of new digital air traffic management tools at the airport to further enhance operational performance.

NATS CEO Martin Rolfe said: “For Gatwick to invite us back speaks to the faith they have in NATS to both deliver the best possible service and to support the airport’s longer-term strategic objectives. Our first priority is to enhance the resilience of the air traffic operation so we can deliver the kind of service the airport, its airlines and their passengers will need for the future.”

NATS handled 1.29 million flights in the UK in the last financial year, 50% of pre-pandemic traffic levels.