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Thu, Jun 13, 2002

NATS Arranges £130m Bailout

Long in financial trouble after what has been perhaps optimistically called "privatization," the ATC system in Britain may soon see millions of additional taxpayer pounds sterling added to its bank account, to match "private" funds, and keep the over-regulated system working, until the next cash crisis.
NATS, 49%-owned by the government (yet called a "privatized" enterprise by those who think the 46% airline ownership and 5% actual "private" ownership makes it less-governmental), has been losing money since Day One ("Part-Socialism Bad as The Whole Thing: <<A class=_blank href="http://www.aero-news.net/news/commercial.cfm?ContentBlockID=E1363689-E229-49E3-B5A4-2C6E48F3135C">STRONG>NATS Bailout -- 'Private Ownership, Public Control' is Still Socialism, and Still Doesn't Work").
Now, facing possible bankruptcy and still without a workable (and government-approved) fee structure, Britain's ATC system is prevailing upon taxpayer subsidies (£65 million) to be matched by "airline contributions" (fare increases) of another £65 million.
The only real problem is that NATS, under its present, and foreseeable structures, won't break even, or ever pay the money back.
Transport Minister David Jamieson and NATS chief executive Richard Everitt confirmed what details are visible, when they addressed a Parliament committee Tuesday. The airlines have agreed to their £65 million, provided the MPs donate an equal amount of taxpayer money.
As for a workable fee structure, it has yet to be determined. If things continue as they are today, in other words, this £130 million could be gone soon, too; and another, similar problem could become evident within less than a year.

FMI: http://www.nats.co.uk

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