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Martin Rolfe






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In our response to the impact the pandemic is having on the aviation industry, we have prioritised protecting operational jobs to ensure we have the capacity to manage traffic when it returns. However, the industry is not predicting a return to 2019 traffic levels until 2024 or even 2025, which means painful decisions cannot be avoided. 

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Thinking back through the major crises I’ve worked through during my professional life and nothing has come close to the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on both our industry.

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This year marks 100 years since the birth of air traffic control services in the UK – at Croydon Airport in south London. Today, we are on the verge of another revolution in air traffic control.  

Quite rightly, there is now huge focus on how we can make flying more environmentally sustainable.  People want to fly, and aviation has opened up global markets that nobody imagined 100 years ago.  We won’t be turning the clock back – we just have to get smarter at how we fly. 

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Earlier this year, in a meeting with aviation industry executives at the White House, President Donald Trump called the U.S air traffic arrangements “obsolete”. Perhaps surprising to his many critics, he’s actually not alone in his thinking as the majority of airlines agree with his plans to liberalise and even privatise the country’s air traffic control organisation.

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I was delighted last week to see Eamonn Brennan elected to run Eurocontrol, the Europe-wide coordinating body for air traffic control. He takes over in 2018 and is no doubt already working out what his priorities will need to be – because there are a lot.

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As the World ATM Congress looms large on the horizon, we asked our CEO, Martin Rolfe, to share his views on the big topics sure to be on the lips of the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) community in Madrid next week.

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NATS has been taking part in the creation of a TV series with the BBC called Skies Above Britain. I hope you enjoy what will be a unique insight into what NATS does, but also many of the other fascinating, exciting and occasionally bizarre aspects that make up the aviation community in the UK.

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I went to Westminster last night with the CEO of Heathrow to meet a group of MPs to discuss what their constituents are telling them is more flights and more noise over their homes.

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Airspace is our invisible infrastructure: we might not be able to see it, but it is as important as our roads, our railways and our runways.

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Emerging challenges

Yesterday I joined colleagues at the World ATM Congress for a discussion about some of the key challenges facing those of us in the world of air traffic management in the years to come.

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