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Air Traffic Control Changes For Summer

Thursday May 23, 2024

This summer Gloucestershire Airport will not be able to provide an Air Traffic Control Service (ATC) for 10 days across a 10-week period. On days when ATC is provided the service will begin 30 minutes later than published and end 30 minutes earlier. Opening hours can be found HERE.  

This is due to a number of Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) leaving the Airport for new roles elsewhere. In response to this the Airport has already recruited or promoted 5 new ATCOs but the earliest any of them will be fully trained is not in time to prevent these changes to ATC service provision.

Airport Managing Director, Jason Ivey confirms, “This does not mean the Airport is totally shut as operators based here will still be able to take off and land using our indemnity scheme.  Additional support on these days is also being investigated.

We’ve spent considerable time consulting those that operate from Gloucestershire Airport and have implemented as many of their suggestions as possible, within the bounds of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations and individual contracts.

The revised opening times in place for July, August and part of September have meant many of our ATC team have had to cancel leave and change their own family arrangements, for which we are extremely grateful.”  

The new Senior Leadership Team (SLT) put in place a full manpower plan for Air Traffic Control several months ago, covering recruitment, training and succession planning to ensure this difficult situation will not happen in future.

This plan included the introduction of the new ATCO pay scales to help with recruitment and retention and the airport has also initiated a £500,000 investment in Air Traffic Control Tower equipment to improve the working environment and service.  

Gloucestershire was the busiest General Aviation Airport in the UK last year, and this, plus the variety and complexity of movements makes it an ideal location for ATCOs to get extensive experience in a short space of time and therefore be able to advance their careers.  

Chris Brian, Manager, Air Traffic Services explains; "There is a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers throughout the UK at the moment. This has led to unprecedented demand from larger airfields for more ATCOs and has made it increasingly difficult for airports like ours to recruit new and retain existing staff.

Despite our best efforts to counter these challenges we now find ourselves without enough controllers to always provide an ATC service. Having said that, I am extremely proud of the efforts and sacrifices that our ATC staff are making to ensure we do everything possible to support our customers and recover from this situation in the shortest feasible time frame. I could not ask any more of this remarkable team".

Graham Carter, General Manager at Castle Air commented, "As an operator at Gloucestershire Airport, we at Castle Air Academy appreciate the opportunity to provide a ‘user based’ perspective on this difficult situation and to have been consulted throughout the decision-making process to support the conclusion that has been reached in terms of ATC opening hours.  The future proofing of ATC is essential for the growth of our organisation over the next 12 months and it is good to hear that the SLT have a plan in place for this.”

Kerry Evans, Technical Director at RGV agrees; “We’ve had the opportunity to feed in our thoughts and help shape what is a difficult situation for those that use the airport. The management team have tried to accommodate all operators needs and the future plan for ATC sounds as if this won't happen again, after this interim period to train up the new ATCOs.”

Jason Ivey, Managing Director concludes, “We recognise that this situation is extremely regrettable but would like to thank the operators for their understanding, support, and for the many messages we have received from those who believe that the new team are doing everything they can to ensure a professional and well managed aviation hub.”      

The new hours come into force on the 8th of July and are available HERE.

Gloucestershire Airport