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Air traffic failure: how much do controllers earn?

Air traffic failure: how much do controllers earn?

Air traffic controllers are responsible for ensuring all planes and passengers get to their destination safely and on time, but this week a “technical glitch” has delayed hundreds of flights across Britain.

Around 200,000 people started the day on Tuesday where they did not wish to be – with many expecting to be stranded for several days, as airlines struggle to recover from the hours-long failure of the National Air Traffic Services (Nats) system on bank holiday Monday.

Almost 300 flights were cancelled at the UK’s six busiest airports alone on Tuesday. Most were short-haul departures from London Heathrow but some transatlantic flights were also affected.

So how much do air traffic controllers get paid, and what qualifications do they need to do the job?

The average salary of an air traffic controller is £18,001, according to a UK government website. Workers can expect to work 35 to 45 hours a week, including weekends and bank holidays. Air traffic controllers with more experience can expect to earn up to £43,469, while senior salaries can rise to over £100,000 at larger airports.

This week a ‘technical glitch’ delayed hundreds of flights across Britain


Four of five GCSE grades nine to four (A* to C) and A Levels or equivalent are needed to get on to an apprenticeship or trainee scheme, which are the two most common routes into the job.

Controllers for Nats, which provides air traffic control services to UK flights, can earn up to £105,265 per year, according to jobs website Glassdoor. The Highlands and Islands Airports salary can reach £75,500, while those who work for the Royal Air Force can earn £47,000 per year.

Once in the job, apprentices or trainees can become area controllers, approach controllers or aerodrome controllers. Area controllers track and guide aircraft flying at “higher altitudes”, based at a regional control centre.

Meanwhile, approach controllers manage aircraft as they approach an airport, and issue instructions to planes that have just taken off.

Aerodrome controllers work in a control tower, giving clearance to land and take off, as well as guiding pilots to the correct position on stands and runways.

Air traffic controllers are expected to relocate to Fareham, Hampshire, while completing training. Once qualified, applicants can be sent to work anywhere in Britain.

Initial training can…

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