No more strikes will take place at six Scottish airports while talks continue on the future of air traffic management.
Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) and Prospect confirmed they have agreed a middle ground to move forward with discussions on modernising air traffic services.
Plans to centralise network surveillance services at a remotely-operated centre in Inverness have raised concerns about jobs being lost in rural communities.
The dispute has already led to strike action at a number of Hial-operated airports.
If approved, surveillance for Stornoway, Sumburgh, Kirkwall, Inverness and Dundee airports would all move to the Highland capital.
Discussions are continuing on the adoption of more modern air traffic control services which include widely used techniques practiced around the world.
Both parties have been involved with “constructive” discussions to seek a “mutually agreeable” approach.
‘Our airports remain our priority’
Inglis Lyon, managing director for Hial, said: “This marks a significant and positive step. We are pleased that Prospect has suspended the industrial action.
“This will allow the discussions to move forward without further disruption to our passengers and airlines.
“This compromise will help both parties minimise the impact of the air traffic management programme on our communities and colleagues whilst continuing with key elements of the modernisation programme.
“Our airports provide lifeline and essential services and ensuring a safe and resilient air traffic management system that will future proof our airports remain our priority. The work we will undertake over the next few months will help us meet that objective.
“While there is much work to do before we have a final proposal, we are pleased with the progress that has been made. It is important that we have the time and space to continue these constructive talks and develop the proposal.”
Air traffic services being provided locally at Stornoway, Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Dundee for the duration of the surveillance programme are also being discussed.
Meanwhile, air traffic control for Inverness would be provided remotely from the combined surveillance centre.
‘A good step forward’
David Avery, negotiation officer for Prospect, said: “We welcome the decision of the Hial board to work with their staff and communities to find a solution which not only delivers safety improvements but also protects local jobs and services.
“Prospect has always said that it wants to work with Hial to come up with the best way to improve air traffic control services in the Highlands and Islands.
“This is a good step forward which we hope will eventually form the template for a safer and more effective ATMS while retaining most of the jobs and skills in remote communities.
“On behalf of members, I would like to thank everyone who has supported Prospect members’ campaign to bring about this new approach to air traffic services across Hial.”
Separate talks will take place on air traffic services for Benbecula and Wick John O’Groats airports.