The Council of the Isles of Scilly has received many comments over the past week relating to disrupted flights at St Mary’s Airport. Specifically, customers have commented that air traffic control at the Airport is operating inflexibly.
Currently the Air Traffic Control team at St Mary’s Airport is working with reduced staff. This situation means that the operating hours of the Airport on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have been reduced in agreement with Skybus and the Civil Aviation Authority.
However, recent delays and cancellations have not been directly caused by the reduced operating hours at the Airport but due to a combination of poor weather and issues faced by the operator.
Whilst we understand the frustrations of passengers inconvenienced by delays and cancellations, we must stress that air traffic control is highly regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority. Air Traffic Controllers are required by law to comply with maximum working hours and specified rest periods that need to be taken even if there has been no flying. These regulations apply to all UK Airports and provide no opportunity for flexibility. This means that even though an air traffic controller is on site they may not able to carry out their duties during scheduled rest periods or if they have been at work for the prescribed time.
We would like to assure our customers that we remain committed to providing a safe, efficient and customer focused Airport. We are happy to announce that we are in the process of increasing our capacity and resilience. This includes the anticipated return of an existing controller, training of an existing member of staff and the successful recruitment of a new Air Traffic Controller to the service.