55. The Transport Act 2000 includes a contingency
that, in extremis, air traffic control could be placed
Nevertheless, the recent experience with Railtrack demonstrates
that the existence of a legal mechanism to place such a vital
company into administration is not sufficient. We expect the
Department to publish details of its full contingency recovery
plan in the event of a complete failure of NATS finances.
56. The Government's overriding desire to complete
the PPP left NATS with an unprecedented and unsustainable level
of debt that will be scarcely altered by current restructuring
plans. We were told that the PPP and the introduction of private
sector management would deliver a more efficient air traffic control
service. We have seen little evidence of those efficiencies or
the improvements in NATS' management. NATS' business plan is crucial
to its survival. We are not convinced that it will deliver improvements.
57. The Committee's previous conclusions about
long term funding and alternative ownership models remain valid.
NATS provides an essential service that must be run safely and
efficiently. The PPP was not appropriate and should be reviewed
before it does terminal damage to United Kingdom's aviation industry
and vital national interests.
139 Q 427. Back