Last April, GATCO had a conversation with Innovation News Network about the effect COVID-19 is having on the aviation and air traffic management (ATM) industry and how that is likely to change the focus, concerns and priorities moving forward. Luis Barbero, President of GATCO, highlighted how the focus has shifted from tackling air traffic controller staff shortages and lack of capacity pre-COVID to ensuring the continuity of air navigation services with traffic down by 90% and revenues significantly reduced.
Luis also indicates that if technology and automation are to be part of the solution to successfully navigate through this crisis, it is important air traffic controllers remain at the centre of any technology development. We have experienced in the past how technological solutions not developed in close contact with the operational world have not delivered the anticipated benefits.
Looking ahead, it is going to be key to evolve and adapt to the new ecosystem for aviation and ATM, with potentially different demand for air travel and with the environment playing an increasingly important role. Despite attempts to establish parallelisms between airlines and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), this crisis has highlighted that they are more different than it is sometimes recognised. The services provided by ANSPs are part of the national critical infrastructure, ensuring medical, military and cargo flights operated without disruption during this pandemic. It would be beneficial for all stakeholders to remember that aspect when discussing future business and funding models for air navigation services.