Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240-244)



  240. 21 per cent can be made. Why was it not made five years ago?
  (Mr Jamieson) That is the question we all have to ask because we think the PPP has delivered this because it has brought in private management and it has brought in systems that have allowed these efficiencies to take place so, yes, that is a good question for the Committee to ask. I think we have to ask the question could those efficiencies have been made under the system that existed five years ago.

  241. Let's explore that for a little bit. Over the last ten or 15 years a new system has been put into place which has consumed considerable resources and considerable skills to put that into place. Is NATS going to have sufficient skilled people and sufficient resources to go into the next era? You could say you are proud of Swanwick because you just about produced a steam train but most people are now looking at something like a high speed electric train. If we went to the global navigation systems that people are talking about, has NATS got the resources to get into that market or have we been left totally behind?
  (Mr Jamieson) Mr Bennett is quite right in indicating that there have been changes over the years. There are still changes taking place now. What NATS have done is look at further automation of certain of their processes and there have been certain efficiencies they have brought about. The underlying thing on which we have to be assured is that they can carry out the existing operations safely and they can meet future projections of any increase or decrease in air traffic and that they can do that safely and the air system can operate. Those are the things we have to secure.

  242. If we can do what we are doing now, that is alright? NATS does not have to look to the future, so it can be a dinosaur and disappear?
  (Mr Jamieson) One of my criteria was that NATS has to respond to any future need, any increase or decrease there may be in airline traffic and in its business plan it has submitted it has to demonstrate that it is capable of meeting this.

  243. There is a question of numbers and there is also the question of major technological change, is there not? Has it got the resources to deal with that major technological challenge over the next ten to 15 years?
  (Mr Griffins) I think the answer is yes. It is less likely to be a dinosaur in its present state than it might have been otherwise.


  244. You have always been estimably optimistic, Mr Griffins, that is why we love talking to you. Thank you very much, Minister. We feel much more enlightened now than we did before you arrived.
  (Mr Jamieson) Thank you, Chairman, it has been a pleasure appearing before your Committee.


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