After a break of six years, NATS is back as the air traffic service provider at Gatwick Airport.

The transition from the previous provider occurred overnight on 8-9 October, with all the existing controllers transferring across to NATS. It means the air traffic service at all five major London airports is being delivered by NATS for the first time since 2016.

Working in partnership with the airport, NATS will now concentrate on building the resilience of the air traffic operation. With up to 55 aircraft movements per-hour off its single runway, Gatwick is one of the most challenging airports in the world to be an air traffic controller. A plan to train and recruit new and experienced controllers is already underway and will begin delivering in the coming months. NATS is also working with the airport to support its longer-term strategic objectives.

NATS is also exploring the feasibility to deploy its Intelligent Approach arrival spacing tool, in what will be a world first for a single runway ‘mixed-mode’ airport, where take-offs and landings occur on the same runway. The tool helps deliver improved resilience against delays and disruption by tailoring the spacing between arriving and departing aircraft.

NATS also plans to work with the industry leading company, Searidge Technologies to evaluate the potential use of new digital air traffic management tools at the airport to further enhance operational performance.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport Chief Executive, said: “NATS comes with a world-beating reputation for providing air traffic control service. We’re looking forward to working closely together to build resilience in the years ahead, which of course will benefit our passengers, airlines, employees, and the region’s wider economy. “I would like to pass on my gratitude to Air Navigation Solutions Limited for supplying air traffic control services at the airport over the past six years.”

Martin Rolfe, NATS Chief Executive Officer, said: “For Gatwick to invite us back speaks to the faith they have in NATS to both deliver the best possible service and to support the airport’s longer term strategic objectives. Our first priority is to enhance the resilience of the air traffic operation so we can deliver the kind of service the airport, its airlines and their passengers will need for the future.”

The Gatwick service is provided by NATS Services Ltd.