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26th October 2021

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has cautiously welcomed the announcement from HIAL that it has opened productive talks with Prospect and its members over its controversial Air Traffic Management centralisation plans.

The announcement comes following the agreement of a framework for future discussions and means that Air Traffic Controllers across the region have now suspended all industrial action while talks are ongoing.

Mrs Grant said: "It is to be welcomed that HIAL have finally agreed to sit round the table. One of my biggest concerns, among many, through this whole process has been HIAL's refusal to properly engage with its staff on both their futures and on the safety and robustness of the plans, things with its staff have invaluable expertise on.

"It is yet to be seen whether they are coming to these discussions in good faith and with a willingness to adapt to the myriad concerns and flaws which have been identified, but by at least being willing to talk about these issues now HIAL has taken a step in the right direction.

Mrs Grant added: “My growing concern now is, that because of the level of resistance from the local communities HIAL may try to take the long patient approach: phasing out the Air Traffic Control jobs from these communities as they become naturally vacant, acclimatising communities to drops in local service provision bit by bit and resulting in a long term loss of high quality jobs in rural areas."

“I hope that this is not the long term plan, and I think if Minister of Transport Graeme Dey would step up and meet with the communities to hear their concerns then this may allay some of these fears. I fear this battle is long from over."