Let's keep our golden share in NATS

If you fly away somewhere, on your holidays or for business, it's the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) that keeps you safe in the sky.

The history

NATS is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services. Each year it keeps 250 million passengers safe and handles 2.5 million flights in UK airspace. You've probably used the services of NATS without realising it, just by stepping onto a plane.

NATS was created in 1962 to bring military and civilian air traffic control under the same organisation. It's a world leader which sells services to airports and airlines in 30 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Who owns NATS?

We do! Well, we own half of it. NATS was partly privatised in 1998. It became a public private partnership which is partly owned by the Airline Group (42%), London Heathrow (4%) and NATS staff (5%). 

But we still own 49% - this is a 'golden share' meaning the government can outvote other owners if necessary. 

The government has proposed fully privatising NATS twice, in 2012 and 2015. We Own It campaigned against this further privatisation - 100 MPs signed on to Early Day Motion 689 to keep NATS public.

Key facts

  • Before Covid (and the cost of living crisis) our golden share in NATS was very profitable. It returned a dividend to the public purse every year, and is likely to do so again as air travel increases.
  • Tackling emissions from air travel is a huge challenge but NATS has reduced its own emissions by 37% since 2018 and was named as one of Europe’s Climate Leaders, in the 2022 listing compiled by the Financial Times and Statista.
  • NATS has 4,500 employees dedicated to keeping the skies safe, including 1,700 Air Traffic Controllers.

Video about working at NATS:

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