A dispute about pay between Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) means that disruption to air travel to and from the Western Isles is possible from tomorrow (Monday April 1st).

Air traffic controllers are undertaking industrial action to support their claim for a double-digit wage increase in 2018/19 or a long-term commitment to above inflation pay awards.

HIAL say that evidence from a joint analysis between the union Prospect and HIAL did not support that level of award.

HIAL have scheduled a meeting with Prospect and with the arbitration service ACAS on Tuesday 9th April but a work-to-rule is due to start on Monday.

There’s also expected to be a 24-hour strike on April 26th, with HIAL planning to close Stornoway and Benbecula airports for 24 hours if that action goes ahead.

A statement from HIAL last week (March 27th) said: “We anticipate there will be some disruption as a result of the work to rule and apologise in advance for the inconvenience this may cause. We continue to work closely with our airlines to minimise potential disruption wherever possible.

“To allow our passengers to plan, we are progressing on the assumption that the strike action will go ahead and that the airports including Benbecula, Stornoway and Inverness will close to air traffic for the 24-hour period on 26th April.

"Passengers should check the dedicated page on our website for up to date information during the action period: https://www.hial.co.uk/hial-group/air-traffic-control-dispute/

Ahead of the ballot of members about industrial action, David Avery, Prospect negotiations officer, said: “Members do not wish to take this action but have been forced into this position by ministers' refusal to engage on air traffic controllers’ pay.”