We are pleased to announce that today the Government have selected the Airline Group as the strategic partner for the National Air Traffic Services Public/Private Partnership. The Airline Group has satisfied the Government that it will maintain the high safety standards achieved by NATS. Its strategic investment plan will provide NATS with the investment it needs to meet the demands of steadily increasing air traffic, and will guarantee the future of the new air traffic control centres at Swanwick and Prestwick. The Airline Group will also introduce management skills into NATS which will help it to operate efficiently.
The NATS Public/Private Partnership will be regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, which will ensure that NATS continues to operate safely, while reducing costs to users. The Government will retain a 49 per cent shareholding to enable them to protect the public interest on strategic matters. Staff will have a direct interest in the company through a 5 per cent stake.
Since last November, when the legislation enabling the establishment of the public/private partnership was announced, the Government have been taking the views of all sections of the aviation community on their proposals. The report on the discussions held during this three-month period is being laid in the Libraries of both Houses today.
This will be the first true public/private partnership, helping to ensure the safe and efficient provision of air traffic services, and providing the opportunity for NATS to emerge as a major worldwide player in its field.