Dismissing trainee air traffic controllers weeks before graduation is cruel and short-sighted

15 September 2020

NATS has announced that any Trainee Air traffic Controller (TATC) who has not yet gained their Student Licence and been posted to an operational unit is to lose their job.

Air traffic control tower

This affects more than 120 students, many of whom have just months left of their course, with some only two weeks from qualifying. Since Lockdown, they have been furloughed to take advantage of the government’s job retention scheme. The most recent starters are on apprentice contracts.

It is estimated that NATS spends an average of £150k per college Trainee.

Steve Jary, Prospect National Secretary, said:

“This is a disastrously short-sighted and cruel decision by NATS to dismiss these trainees, some of whom have just a fortnight left of their course to run.

“The aviation industry is facing unprecedented challenges but simply dismissing these people is not the answer. NATS is already running a voluntary redundancy programme which will we are concerned will result in gaps in capability; but we’d have liked voluntary redundancy to be used to create space to allow the trainees ed to complete their training. Instead they are being thrown to the wolves We have received countless messages from TATCs in despair – having got through a highly competitive selection process, their dream career is being ripped away from them.

“We have seen in previous downturns that cutting training undermines NATS’s ability to provide a reliable service. It is dangerous to repeat the mistakes of the past by slashing potential ATCO numbers to the point where the industry will be unable to recover after the pandemic.”