UK ATC Eyes Full Privatization

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In the best spirit of free enterprise, Britain’s hybrid airspace management company, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), is hoping to sell high after recovering from some desperate lows in its early years. According to thisismoney.co.uk, NATS is riding the worldwide growth in commercial air traffic and reported a profit of almost $200 million in the fiscal year ending March 31. That’s a far cry from the dark days following 9/11, when the brand-new entity had to arrange a $130 million bailout with airport operators just to stay alive. The airports group got 4 percent of the equity in return for the cash infusion and the British government still owns 49 percent of the company. Seven major airlines collectively hold 42 percent of NATS, and thisismoney.co.uk says they’d like to free up that equity. Some of the biggest winners in a buyout would be NATS employees, who own 5 percent of the company and could expect significant windfalls in a sell-off.