NATS CEO Attending Airspace World – Ryanair: “Comedy Gold”

By James Field - Editor in Chief 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
NATS CEO Attending Airspace World - Ryanair: "Comedy Gold"
Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

The NATS CEO Martin Rolfe will be attending Airspace World 2024 as a speaker on Crisis Management, which Ryanair has dubbed as “Comedy gold”.

Such a press release was made by the Irish airline following the knowledge of Mr. Rolfe’s attendance.

Without further ado, let’s get into it…

What Has Ryanair Boss O’Leary Said On This?

NATS CEO Attending Airspace World - Ryanair: "Comedy Gold"
Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary had this to say on the attendance of NATS CEO Martin Rolfe at Airspace World 2024 this week:

“Over the last 5 years, UK ATC have delivered repeated staff shortages and system breakdowns.”

“The most serious of which was last year’s 28 Aug UK ATC collapse, which the CAA have now confirmed disrupted the travel plans of over 700,000 passengers.”

“Martin Rolfe and NATS produced a Whitewash Report.”

“[This] misled Parliament as to the causes and effects of this latest NATS failure.”

“Martin Rolfe will now deliver the comedy slot at the Airspace World 2024 Conference”.

“He will entertain all attendees with his views on “Crisis Management in ATM: Ensuring Business Continuity”.”

“Sadly no one knows less about business continuity than Martin Rolfe.”

“This could be one of the shortest presentations in conference history given that he specialises in creating crises rather than solving them.”

“We look forward to hearing how Matin Rolfe’s engineers were sitting at home in their pyjamas during last year’s Aug bank holiday”.

“The only way Martin Rolfe could ensure business continuity for UK ATC, is to step down or be replaced by somebody competent.”

“Martin Rolfe has repeatedly shown that he is not this person”.

The General Feeling from This…

NATS CEO Attending Airspace World - Ryanair: "Comedy Gold"
Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

The pressure from Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary continues, and for the industry is understandable.

Many across the industry have echoed the need for further resiliency in the infrastructure.

They haven’t, however, directly called for the sacking of the NATS CEO like the Irish low-cost carrier has consistently.

Over the Summer, O’Leary gained significant traction following a foul-mouthed rant at a press conference about NATS.

In the video, he eviscerated Mr. Rolfe as well as the rest of the board at the company.

He even went as far as telling them that they wouldn’t cancel flights.

O’Leary stated in that foul-mouthed rant that Ryanair pays NATS around £100m a year for their services.

As is seen with other issues that Ryanair is fighting, O’Leary will not back down on this issue.

He is no doubt concerned about whether the same thing will happen again in the context of a record Summer 2024 season.

Furthermore, now that the interim report by the CAA has been released, the work should hopefully have begun by now to make those fixes.

However, there is a clear feeling at the Irish low-cost carrier that they want Rolfe to go.


Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

With continued pressure on the government to replace Rolfe at NATS, all eyes will be on tomorrow’s event at Airspace World.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to see what additional pressure tactics will be displayed by the airline.

They will stop at nothing to ensure of his departure from the air traffic services provider.

But for now, let’s see what happens on this moving forward.

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By James Field Editor in Chief
James is a passionate AvGeek based in Manchester, U.K, who has been actively spotting for years. He is the Editor in Chief for AviationSource News.