Press update: May 2010

16 May 2010

Welcome

Welcome to the NATS Press Update, a monthly bulletin of news from the UK’s leading air traffic services provider.

The guiding principle of air traffic control is that safety is paramount. Our objective is to maintain and, where practicable, improve standards to achieve the highest levels of safety performance. The whole structure and culture of NATS is built around safety.

Within this safety driven environment, we deliver an efficient, effective service to our customers, directing over 2.4 million flights and 220 million passengers safely through some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the world each year.

Ash Cloud Reduces April Air Traffic By More Than 20 Per Cent

The six-day restriction of UK controlled airspace caused by the Icelandic volcanic eruption contributed to a 21.2% reduction in the number of flights managed by NATS in April, compared with the previous year.

Last month there were 141, 956 flights in UK controlled airspace, compared to 180, 166 in April 2009: a reduction of 38,210 flights.

The decrease reflects the action taken to restrict flight clearances between Wednesday April 15th and Monday April 20th, which affected all domestic, international and overflight services.

NATS Operations Strategy and Standards Director Ian Hall said: “For the UK’s aviation industry, the widespread presence of volcanic ash was an unprecedented event. We worked with the regulator, government and our customers to ensure safety was the first priority.

“We are focused on delivering the safe and efficient regeneration of air traffic to support the airlines in recovering their operations. This natural hazard, the scale of which has not been experienced in this region before, continues to threaten air travel and we continue to monitor volcanic activity data to try to minimise the effect on our airspace.”

All NATS markets, centres and airports posted a reduction in traffic for April, which can be seen on the table below.

Apr 2010

Apr 2009

% gr

2010 to Date

2009 to Date

% gr

UK FLIGHTS

141,956

180,166

-21.2%

614,259

680,770

-9.8%

CENTRES

Swanwick

123,429

155,610

-20.7%

529,083

584,561

-9.5%

Prestwick

56,811

74,941

-24.2%

248,687

285,100

-12.8%

London Area Control

117,492

147,706

-20.5%

501,295

554,471

-9.6%

London Terminal Control

82,157

102,836

-20.1%

361,369

394,051

-8.3%

Manchester Area

Control Centre

30,285

39,960

-24.2%

130,721

150,716

-13.3%

Scottish Area

Control Centre

34,111

45,583

-25.2%

153,367

174,163

-11.9%

Oceanic Area

Control Centre (Shanwick)

27,289

32,461

-15.9%

114,214

120,848

-5.5%

MARKET

Transatlantic

Arrivals/Departures

8,284

10,066

-17.7%

35,474

38,861

-8.7%

Transatlantic

Overflights

12,217

15,253

-19.9%

52,264

56,986

-8.3%

Other Arrivals/Departures

87,005

109,229

-20.3%

371,242

409,187

-9.3%

Other Overflights

6,367

8,717

-27.0%

28,489

34,562

-17.6%

Domestic

27,693

35,876

-22.8%

125,315

139,362

-10.1%

 

New Guidance Clears The Way To Fly Through Ash Cloud

NATS is delighted that restrictions on UK airspace can today (Tuesday, May 18) be eased, thanks to new measures from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Aircraft can now safely fly through ‘medium density’ ash following the introduction of a new zone that defines the concentration of the ash cloud.

“NATS has been at the heart of this ground-breaking proposal and our people have worked very closely with the Irish Aviation Authority, CAA and the rest of the industry to make it happen,” said NATS Chief Executive Officer, Richard Deakin.

“Every leading player in aviation has been helping to build vast amounts of data about the effects of volcanic ash over the last month. There is mounting evidence that aircraft can fly safely through areas of medium density, provided some additional precautions are taken. This is now what has been agreed.”

Richard added that teams at NATS had been working all hours to create new and enhanced procedures to make sure the changes can take place as safely and as effectively as possible.

Previously, the CAA has dealt with the ash cloud by applying No-Fly Zones (NFZ) in areas of greatest ash density, and Enhanced Procedures Zones (EPZ) in areas of low density, which were introduced during the six-day crisis last month.

Today’s breakthrough means a third Time Limited Zone (TLZ) is now being introduced for areas of medium ash density.

As a result of this change, there are no predicted restrictions on UK airspace in the immediate future. If that picture changes, NATS will update its website as necessary.

NATS To Pay £20m Interim Dividend To Shareholders

NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air navigation services, is to pay a £20m interim dividend to shareholders including employees, in respect of the year ending 31st March 2011. NATS En Route plc, the company’s regulated en route services provider, will fund £15m of the dividend with the remaining £5m coming from NATS Services Ltd, the non-regulated business providing airports air traffic services and consultancy.

This equates to 13.98 pence per share and amounts to a dividend payment to the Government of £9.8m and to its strategic partner in NATS, The Airline Group, of £8.4m. Airports group BAA will receive £0.8m. The NATS Employee Share Trust will receive £1m for distribution to employee shareholders, which means that individuals could receive up to £276.

NATS Wins Awards For Relocating Staff To Scotland

NATS won the ‘Best Relocation Strategy/Policy Award’ and received the trophy for the ‘Inspirational Team of the Year’ at the Re:locate award ceremony on May 7.

The first recognised the design of an innovative, relocation policy for the move of Manchester Area Control Centre employees to Prestwick Centre in Ayrshire.

The second acknowledged the successful implementation of the new policy due to the commitment, persistence, responsiveness and innovation of the teams involved.

A special prize of a team development day was also awarded to NATS, which was highly commended for its success in the two categories.

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