ATSS Statement around the ongoing and rapidly developing COVID-19 situation

All members will be aware that the current unprecedented worldwide situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a global crisis in the aviation industry with significant cuts to schedules being announced by all the major UK airlines. You will have also seen Martin Rolfe’s email sent on Sunday indicating the severity of the situation to the NATS business.

We have had initial meetings with NATS around what options will be needed to protect employees and the operational service as the full impact of COVID-19 is felt with the increasing numbers of people becoming infected. Nobody should be in any doubt that this situation is going to have a major impact on all ANSPs, airlines and our airport customers. We are urgently seeking to understand what the impact of the current situation will be in the short, medium and the long term.

ATSS Branch are beginning conversations with relevant management representatives of the different business areas in which our members work, to understand what the impact is likely to be. It is too early to say what measures may be appropriate in order to respond to the rapid decline in traffic levels or what impact this will have on staff. We have had initial discussions with Technical Services to understand what the impact might be on day-to-day operations and the overall investment programme as a consequence of the changed financial position of the company.

In practical terms, this means that members may be asked to assist in ways that will reduce the NATS cost base. Members may wish to consider whether they personally may be able to undertake measures on a voluntary basis, such as use of TOIL, sabbaticals, part-time working etc. We will be exploring and engaging with members on the practicalities and safeguards that would be required as and when any such arrangements are to be taken forward.

There is very little information available at the moment as the situation is evolving rapidly. We understand that many of you will have questions at the moment. We will endeavour to issue comms to members as and when information becomes available to us. It’s equally important that we hear from members with any concerns or issues. Please pass these through your local reps in the first instance. As matters evolve, we will look at how best to engage and support our members through this difficult period.

Suresh Tewari
ATSS Branch President

16 March 2020