MPs to quiz air control chiefs

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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The bosses of air traffic control company Nats are to appear before MPs to explain last week’s computer glitch that led to severe flight disruption.

Nats chief executive Richard Deakin and the company’s operations managing director Martin Rolfe will give evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee today.

The committee will also hear from Andrew Haines, chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority which has already announced that an independent inquiry will be held into last Friday’s failure.

The committee has already taken evidence this week from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin who described last week’s flight delays as “unacceptable”.

But Mr McLoughlin also told MPs that Nats was generally doing a good job and that Nats-attributed delays averaged just 2.5 seconds compared with the average of 30 seconds for controllers across the rest of Europe.

Labour MP Paul Flynn has said that Mr Deakin should forego any bonus following last week’s problems which Mr McLoughlin said had led to disruption to 10,000 passengers at Heathrow airport alone.

Mr McLoughlin told the committee that Mr Deakin’s bonus had been reduced by 12% due to a Nats computer failure that led to flight disruption in December 2013 and that he expected that last week’s upheaval would be reflected in the the level of the Nats’ chief’s latest bonus.

The two Nats’ bosses can expect to be questioned on bonuses as well as the claim by Prospect, the air traffic controllers’ union, that last week’s difficulties had come against “a backdrop of low morale, redundancies and cost-cutting”.

When questioning Mr McLoughlin at Monday’s hearing, the transport committee’s chairman Louise Ellman had been sceptical about the independent nature of the inquiry which the CAA is setting up.

Mr Haines is likely to face questions about the make-up of the inquiry team which, Mr McLoughlin said, is likely to produce an interim report by the end of January 2015 and a full report in March 2015.

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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