German-owned air traffic company, ANS, takes control (from NATS) of Gatwick tower services below 4,000 feet
Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower services at Gatwick are being provided, since 1st March, by a subsidiary company of German air navigation service provider DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung. The wholly owned DFS subsidiary—Air Navigation Solutions (ANS)—replaces NATS, and is now responsible for air traffic and approach services below 4,000 feet around the airport. NATS continues to provide approach control guidance to Gatwick from its Swanwick area control center. While the German government owns 100% of DFS, NATS is a public-private partnership; the UK government owns 49% of it; airlines own 42%; employees 5% and Heathrow 4%. Gatwick originally tendered for the services in late 2013, but NATS challenged this through the UK High Court of Justice. It won an injunction in October 2014 that suspended the contract award, and the matter was finally settled out of court. NATS is proud that it managed to deal with a record of 934 movements in a single day. Local campaign GACC believe the change will probably make very little practical difference because all the same staff will be operating the Gatwick control tower – just with a different employer. NATS says it has seconded 24 employees to support ANS for 2 years.
German-owned ATC Provider Takes Control of Gatwick Tower
by Bill Carey (AIN online)
March 1, 2016
The management of Gatwick Airport invited bids for the tower services contract, which it awarded to Germany’s DFS.
ATC tower services at London’s Gatwick Airport are being provided by a subsidiary company of German air navigation service provider DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung following an official transfer of responsibility on March 1. The wholly owned DFS subsidiary—Air Navigation Solutions (ANS)—replaces UK NATS as tower services provider at the country’s second-largest airport.
ANS is responsible for air traffic and approach services below 4,000 feet around the airport, which is located 28 miles south of London. NATS continues to provide approach control guidance to Gatwick from its Swanwick area control center.
The German government owns 100 percent of DFS. NATS is structured as a public-private partnership; the UK government owns 49 percent, airlines 42 percent, employees 5 percent and UK airport operator LHR Airports 4 percent.
Gatwick’s management invited tenders for the tower and engineering services contract in late 2013 and announced the award to DFS in July 2014, calling the German provider’s proposal “superior to submissions from all other contenders.” The contract term was for 10 years; the expectation at the time was that ANS would begin providing services in October 2015. However, NATS challenged the tender process through the UK High Court of Justice and won an injunction in October 2014 that suspended the contract award. The parties later settled the dispute before the matter went to trial, freeing Gatwick to conclude the contract.
Oversight of the tower switched to ANS early on March 1, NATS announced. It issued the following statement: “We are very proud of our track record at Gatwick, which is, by a large margin, the busiest and most efficient single runway in the world and where NATS last summer delivered a record 934 movements in a single day. We have worked closely with ANS to ensure a safe and professional transition, including seconding 24 employees to support the operation for the next two years.”
ANS managing director Werner Spier in a statement said the transition “resulted in a smooth and seamless handover of services.” Spier formerly managed the Bremen area control center in Germany.
NATS drops High Court action to prevent Gatwick awarding DFS its tower services
UK-based air traffic control business NATS has dropped its action in the High Court to block Gatwick from concluding a deal with German rival DFS to provide air traffic services at the airport till 2025. Gatwick will be the largest UK airport to have its immediate airspace up to 4,000 feet controlled by a a foreign provider. It was announced in July that DFS had beaten NATS to get the contract. On 2 October NATS was granted an injunction after a judge supported what the business insisted were legitimate concerns over the way the contract was awarded. NATS said Gatwick had failed to provide full information. But Gatwick has always defended its decision which followed an ‘extensive’ tender process, and that the proposal submitted by DFS was considered superior. NATS now say they have seen details of the tender process that were not previously freely available, and have therefore reached a settlement before trial. DFS will cover air traffic and approach services below 4,000 feet around the airport, currently provided by NATS from October 2015. NATS will retain operations for all air navigation services above 4,000 feet, from its base in Swanwick.
Germany’s DFS air traffic service beats NATS to control Gatwick flights below 4,000 feet
Gatwick Airport’s air traffic control services are to be provided by a German state-owned company from next year. A 10-year contract for services below 4,000ft around the airport has been given to Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS). The service has been provided for more than 30 years by Hampshire-based NATS, which will continue to navigate air traffic above 4,000ft. NATS said it was disappointed, but it was too early to say if jobs would go. DFS is wholly owned by the German government and operates 16 airports in Germany as well as providing air traffic control across the country. Gatwick management said it was planned that, after a period of transition, DFS would start work in October 2015. The successful bid by DFS comes a year after a UK pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) beat DFS for a 20% stake in NATS. The Airline Group, which had owned 42% of NATS before the sale, chose USS rather than DFS to buy the 20%, which meant that a partial de-facto merger between two of the largest European Air Navigation Service Providers did not happen.