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Transport / No breakthrough on air traffic control pay dispute

Loganair has given an update on how the possible strike is affecting services.

The Sumburgh Airport air traffic control tower. Photo: HIAL

NO AGREEMENT has been reached on possible strike action which could involve air traffic controllers at Sumburgh Airport after talks were held on Thursday.

Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) met with representatives of the Prospect union to discuss a pay dispute which could result in services at the company’s airports across the region being affected on 26 April.

A spokesperson for HIAL said the government-owned company tabled discussion on a “possible retention allowance”, but Prospect said this was not its members’ preferred option.

“At this point, it has not been possible to reach an agreement with the trade union on their pay dispute,” they said.

“Therefore, HIAL and Prospect have agreed to refer the matter to [Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] ACAS in a bid to resolve the matter.”

HIAL said a recently completed analysis of air traffic controllers’ pay at non-HIAL airports, jointly undertaken with Prospect, could find no evidence of staff rates of pay warranting the requested double digit pay increase.

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles, meanwhile, gave an update on how a strike will affect the airline when he spoke at Shetland’s external transport forum on Thursday.

The company stopped taking bookings for 26 April after news of the possible strike broke, and anyone who had previously bought seats for that day can rebook for free.

Hinkles added that if the strike was called off, Loganair would run a “skeleton service” as many flights would be nearly empty.

The airline boss warned, however, that potential for action short of a strike could be more damaging to services as it could see air traffic controllers refusing to work past Sumburgh Airport’s closing time if a night flight was delayed.

If there was danger of this happening then Loganair could retime afternoon flights, Hinkles suggested.