Germany’s state-owned DFS has won the contract to become air traffic controller at Edinburgh airport from April 2018.
The 10-year contract for DFS’s UK unit Air Navigation Solutions (ANS) follows a win at London’s Gatwick airport, where it took over air traffic and approach services below 4,000 feet in March.
Edinburgh Airport, owned by US-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), is Britain’s sixth largest and handles more than 11 million passengers a year.
NATS dropped its court action in December 2014 to block Gatwick airport chiefs from concluding the deal struck in July of that year with German rival to provide tower services.
Its main complaint was over information provided by Gatwick airport chiefs outlining the basis of the contract award. NATS complained that this did not amount to a full explanation which left it with no option but to pursue the matter through the courts.
Gatwick has always defended its decision which followed an ‘extensive’ tender process. It stated at the time that the proposal submitted by DFS was considered superior to submissions from all other contenders based on a range of criteria which included safety, innovation, airport management, technical capability, cost, resilience and the ability to accommodate the requirements of a growing airport.
The contract signed by Paul Reid, chairman of the ANS Board of Directors, and the CEO of Edinburgh Airport, Gordon Dewar, was signed on Thursday.
Thirty-two airlines fly to Edinburgh, operating 173 routes and 122 destinations. In 2015, the Scottish Airport handled nearly 115,000 aircraft movements, representing a traffic increase of five per cent compared to the previous year.
“We are very proud to have won the tender for Edinburgh. This success shows the ambitious will to growth of DFS Group. We have taken the right path in the European market,” said DFS chief executive Klaus-Dieter Scheurle.
Mike Stoller, NATS airports director, tells Air Traffic Management: “We were very disappointed that our bid was unsuccessful, despite understanding at the outset that retaining Edinburgh, which is part of the same ownership group as Gatwick, would be a challenge. We are very proud of our record at Edinburgh, having worked closely together with the airport for many years to help it become the huge success that it is today. We are now working on a transition plan to ensure the airlines and passengers continue to enjoy a first class service from NATS until the new supplier takes over in March 2018.”
An expert commentator believes London City and Glasgow airport may also be watching the move with interest: “London City until recently was owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, the same as Gatwick and Edinburgh. In view of this past association, it is quite possible that management may still actively look to explore new service alternatives, particularly with ANS. The appetite of Glasgow airport to seriously pursue a service change is not known. It will likely review the outcomes of service changes at Gatwick, Edinburgh and Birmingham before making a decision.”