Success for union and communities as remote towers project shelved

27 January 2022

Prospect’s Air Traffic Control Officers working at Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) are celebrating success today in their campaign to preserve high value jobs in remote communities.

HIAL had planned to relocate Air Traffic Control jobs to Inverness but after a long campaign by Prospect members and local communities the plans have been shelved. Prospect had argued that moving to a remote tower in Inverness would compromise effectiveness, remove vital income from remote economies and inevitably result in redundancies. Today’s decision comes after a series of highly constructive talks between Prospect and HIAL management which began in October 2021.

Air traffic services will still be modernised but in a way that protects jobs.

As well as abandoning remote towers the new plans include:

• The introduction of a surveillance programme across the HIAL network with surveillance services provided for Stornoway, Sumburgh, Kirkwall, Inverness, and Dundee airports from a combined surveillance centre in Inverness.
• Air traffic tower services being provided locally at each of these airports.
• A review of air traffic provision against a scope, agreed by HIAL and Prospect, to inform the next steps of the programme. The review to be undertaken at the end of the surveillance programme, or at five years, whichever is soonest.
• A review of the proposed downgrade air traffic services for Benbecula and Wick John O’Groats airports.

David Avery, Prospect Negotiator, said:

“This decision is an important one for Prospect members and hopefully brings to an end our long-running dispute with HIAL over remote towers. We welcome HIAL’s commitment to modernising air traffic control services in a way that works for staff, communities and the business.

“I want to thank everyone who has helped us to reach this outcome. It would not have happened without the dedicated campaigning of Prospect members, and without the widespread support of communities and politicians across the affected areas.

“We look forward to working with HIAL to bring through these modernisations.”

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, said:

“This is an important result not only for Prospect members but also for the communities they serve. I want to congratulate them and everyone else involved – this shows what we can achieve when we combine the power of unions with the voice of local communities.”


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