Air traffic takes off with the Scottish summer getaway

05 July 2019

Scottish schools are now on their summer break, and NATS Prestwick is preparing for what is expected to be a busy July – and busy summer – for air traffic.

Air traffic controllers will be handling significantly more charter flights and business jets as people head off on their holidays and more peaks are expected over the coming weeks, when schools across England and Wales finish for the summer at the end of July.

NATS routinely handles almost a quarter of European traffic with controllers at the Prestwick Centre managing an average of 3,400 flights per day. This can increase to more than 4,600 flights during the summer months.

Air Traffic over Scotland in the weekend following the schools breaking up for the summer (29-30 June)

Planning for this busy period takes many months of organisation and coordination with airlines and airports, as well as internally. This summer sees the Airspace Capacity Management (ACM) team based at the Prestwick Centre for the first time, and they are working closely with the operational supervisors and the airlines to help plan and manage the traffic effectively, so as to minimise delay for passengers.

During peak travel times, the sectors of airspace that air traffic controllers manage will be split into smaller sectors, so the levels of traffic are manageable for each controller. The rostering team has also gone to great lengths to ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time, no matter how busy the skies get.

Martin Donnan, Director Prestwick, said, “We have been planning for this busy summer period for months and have put numerous measures in place to ensure we get passengers on their way safely and quickly, with minimal delay.

“More and more people are flying than ever before and 2019 is set to be the busiest year on record for us at Prestwick and across NATS as a whole. As well as the tactical measures we have put in place for the summer, our long-term plans include modernising airspace and implementing new technology to help deliver more capacity and keep flights moving and on schedule.”

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