HIAL Air Traffic staff still overwhelmingly opposed to remote towers project

13 November 2020

Prospect has conducted a survey of Air Traffic members in Highland and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL).

Air traffic control tower

This survey follows a similar survey conducted in 2018. A summary of the results of the new survey can be read here.

The results show that two years on from our first survey HIAL staff are still overwhelmingly opposed to the remote towers project.  They are still supportive of modernising HIAL’s air traffic control infrastructure but believe that this should be delivered at each airport rather than centralised in Inverness. This option, as well as protecting highly skilled jobs in rural communities, remains cheaper and easier to deliver than HIAL’s centralised solution.

The vast majority of Members have also indicated that they are not prepared to relocate to Inverness regardless of the relocation terms offered. The consequence of this is that unless HIAL changes tack nearly 50 staff will be made redundant with HIAL needing to recruit a similar number in Inverness at very significant expense to the taxpayer.

The survey also shows that members, who are experts within their field of air traffic management, oppose the decision to downgrade both Benbecula and Wick aerodromes, reducing the level of safety provision at those two airports.

Finally, the survey shows support for industrial action. This is an indicative survey only and not a statutory industrial action ballot. Prospect has not yet served notice of a formal statutory ballot or announced what form of action members would be balloted on.

David Avery. Prospect negotiations officer, said:

“Prospect members in HIAL are absolutely committed to protecting and serving their local communities. That is why they are opposing this deeply damaging project which will reduce services at two airports, take £2.2 million of direct employment out of local economies and put nearly 50 staff out of a job.

“Prospect never undertakes industrial action lightly but members feel they have been left with no choice but to support action to defend their communities. Prospect members are currently considering the form of action they might take so as to minimise the impact on local communities particularly during the ongoing pandemic.

“Prospect received an invitation to further talks with HIAL yesterday evening and is considering its response.”


Prospect has members working in aviation, road, rail and maritime transportation, as well as regulation and research.