We don’t often find ourselves in the situation when we have to put on regulations – restrict the traffic flows – at airports where we provide the ATC, but it can happen when an unexpected staff illness reduces our Tower team to levels below what they need to operate normal service. Businesses everywhere have to deal with short-notice staff sickness, but it’s especially noticeable for us because it means aircraft can be delayed, or sometimes even diverted to another airport, and that means inconvenience to the airlines and to the travelling public.
We’re now less than a month away from West Airspace Deployment (West) and we are busy finalising preparations for implementation.
Last week, we were celebrating Learning at Work Week 2022, the national event run by the Campaign for Learning.
The clocks have gone back and with that we’re into the winter flying schedule and what are usually the quieter months of the year once the summer season ends. And while the traffic volumes may have followed that annual trend, I’m really encouraged to see that traffic percentages are creeping up … slowly but surely.
I recently spoke at an online webinar hosted by Resilient Pilot on the topic of skills fade and the anxiety being felt by air traffic controllers and pilots who have been furloughed for the past year (and more) and therefore working with far fewer flights than usual due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Our latest data visualisation is a really stark illustration of how hard the industry has been hit by the pandemic and with the Government still considering its “traffic lights” system, the much-needed summer on which the industry has been pinning its hopes is starting to look more uncertain and ever further away. We are ready if and when we get the green light for international travel, but we desperately need clarity if the summer is to be saved.
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.