Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (Air Traffic Control)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th September 2021.

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The First Minister:

There are some serious and perfectly valid issues in there—complex issues. Of course we want to see the repopulation of our islands, but we must also ensure that there are sustainable services that support the connectivity of our islands. Those are often complex issues that require very careful thought.

On the Minister for Transport’s meeting with Prospect, my understanding is that he is due to meet the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Prospect next month to discuss aviation generally, and I am sure that the issue that has been raised will feature in that. We will certainly look to see whether diaries can enable that meeting to be brought forward. It is important that that engagement takes place.

As I said in my original answer, it is also important that HIAL engages directly with Prospect to address issues that have been raised about how it can make changes that improve the sustainability of the services. The kind of model that is being discussed already operates at London City airport, for example. Obviously, that is very different from our islands, but this is about the sustainability of those services in the longer term.

Important issues have been raised by the union, and I expect HIAL to engage properly with it. As I said, I will ask the Minister for Transport to see whether the meeting can be accelerated.