MP will write to Transport Select Committee and Islands Minister for action

Possible solution to create separate Islands Airports Group

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil will write to Lillian Greenwood MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee of the House of Commons, to look at Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) plans to centralise Air Traffic Control in Inverness.

Mr MacNeil will also write to the Scottish Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP urging the Scottish Government to take action on plans which will lead to the loss of quality island jobs.

Mr MacNeil said: “It is absolutely no surprise that this is the game HIAL are playing, at the very beginning this was about their empire and jobs in Inverness which I predicted.

“The Scottish Government will have to look at the real social and economic impacts of this. The greatest turnover of staff is in Inverness where they want to put this empire and lowest in places like Benbecula and Stornoway where they are trying to take much needed jobs.

Benbecula airport

“If electronic communications are as good as HIAL are saying, they could easily have put this centre in Benbecula or Stornoway.

“A multi airport centre like this is not as clear cut as Swanage for London City where there is one centre for one airport. This is multi screens, for a whole host of airports, requiring training with a whole plethora of technical complexities.

“I am writing to the Transport Select Committee of the House of Commons about the viability of what HIAL  are proposing, as well as going into their scoping exercise as air traffic controllers have informed me they feel there have been flaws in this.

“I will also write to Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP urging the Scottish Government to get a grip of HIAL because they are running away from social and economic responsibilities here in the Hebrides.

“We have our ferry company being managed away from the islands, our airlines being managed away from the islands and now we can’t manage to have a few air traffic control jobs in the islands.

“This contrasts with our neighbours in the Faroe Islands who have their own national airline, 3 or 4 Airbus 320s, their own airport and airlines all run in the Faroe Islands.

“The Scottish Government have to have a look at this and perhaps one solution might be breaking up HIAL into Highlands Airports and a separate Islands Airports so that we have some measure of control and development in our communities rather than ‘having things done to us’ for a bizarre HIAL vision who are empire building in Inverness.”