Mathe­son de­clines to give HIAL vote of con­fi­dence

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY TOM PETERKIN PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son yes­ter­day de­clined to say he had con­fi­dence in High­lands and Is­lands Air­ports Ltd (HIAL) man­age­ment when chal­lenged over its per­for­mance yes­ter­day.

The cab­i­net sec­re­tary faced ques­tions at Holy­rood over plans to cen­tralise air traf­fic con­trol op­er­a­tions, sug­ges­tions staff are about the strike over pay, a re­port crit­i­cis­ing its en­vi­ron­men­tal cre­den­tials and the in­tro­duc­tion of car park­ing charges.

Green High­lands and Is­lands MSP John Fin­nie claimed HIAL had failed to con­sult ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties on is­sues in­clud­ing park­ing charges and men­tioned a Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency (Sepa) re­port which had given the or­gan­i­sa­tion a “very poor” rat­ing on en­vi­ron­ment com­pli­ance.

Mr Fin­nie asked Mr Mathe­son if he had “full con­fi­dence in the abil­ity of HIAL’s man­age­ment team”.

In his re­sponse, Mr Mathe­son failed to an­swer the ques­tion di­rectly, but said HIAL was try­ing to take ac­tion in re­la­tion to en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact is­sues.

He said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was tak­ing for­ward work to mod­ernise the air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem to re­flect in­creas­ingly com­plex reg­u­la­tion and was en­gag­ing with staff on the is­sue of pay.

Mr Fin­nie said it wouldn’t be lost on HIAL that Mr Mathe­son had cho­sen “not to en­dorse their per­for­mance”.

HIAL Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Inglis Lyon said: “We note Mr Fin­nie’s com­ments and have once again in­vited him to a meet­ing to ad­dress his con­cerns. This is the third time we have at­tempted to en­gage with Mr Fin­nie and we would be de­lighted if he took up the op­por­tu­nity.

“HIAL takes its en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties very se­ri­ously and has been work­ing closely with Sepa to im­prove our en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pli­ance rat­ing.

“We re­main in pos­i­tive nega­tions with air traf­fic con­trollers and the trade union Prospect.”

Michael Mathe­son

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