NATS urges reclaiming of economic control

NATS is recommending that the UK Government should reclaim economic control of the air navigation service provider as a consequence of the nation’s decision to exit the European Union.

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The British provider points out that the UK had been responsible for economic regulation until 2015 and any return back would therefore be ‘straightforward’.

Under the Single European Sky, a Performance Scheme sets targets in the key performance areas of safety, environment, airspace capacity and cost efficiency through the adoption of European Union-wide performance targets and approval of consistent national or Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB) performance plans.

Performance plans also contain incentive mechanisms, including the sharing of some financial risks between air navigation service providers and airspace users. The second reference period (RP2) which has run from 2015 to 2019 is coming to a close and EU providers are now preparing for new targets as part of a third reference period (RP3).

NATS explains to Air Traffic Management that the UK is required under national transport legislation to guarantee its  financeability. “Our unique private sector status means that without a UK vote [at EU level], NATS’ financeability may not be guaranteed inside the European performance scheme because of its ‘one size fits all’ approach,” it said, adding that, “this failure would not be in the interests of the UK’s travelling public”.

“NATS has helped shape the development of the Single European Sky (SES) and our involvement is valued across Europe. This includes improving ATM performance in safety, capacity, cost efficiency and environmental measures,” it said, adding that it will continue to have ‘every incentive’ to align with SES regulations regarding safety and interoperability.

The lack of any certainty regarding the United Kingdom’s intentions with respect to European single aviation market and regulation is also generating significant uncertainty for the Irish air navigation service provider IAA which partners with NATS in the UK/Irish FAB which needs to set its own performance targets for the next regulatory period.

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