Airways New Zealand and Lockheed Martin have formed the first of what they believe will be "four to six" global air navigation services (ANS) alliances. Already, the partnership is targeting privatisation opportunities in Africa and the UK.

The companies have signed a 10-year partnership agreement under which Lockheed Martin will replace the current New Zealand air traffic control system, establish a software development centre in Christchurch and jointly pursue global ANS opportunities.

"We believe within the next 10-12 years there will be four to six alliances providing ANS on a global basis," says Airways chief executive Craig Sinclair, adding: "There will be a convergence of technology development and integration skills with commercial and operational delivery skills."

Don Antonucci, president of Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management, says: "This is the first time a technology provider and an ANS provider have come together." The two companies will work on system development and application "not just in New Zealand", he says.

The companies are targeting the Asia-Pacific market and are competing for the USA's Oceanic ATC replacement programme and an upper airspace system for the Comesa group of 21 African states.

Airways and Lockheed Martin are eyeing the potential partial privatisation of the UK's National Air Traffic Services (NATS). If the UK Government decides in June to sell 46% of NATS, the firms plan to bid as part of a consortium, Antonucci says.

If the UK decides to privatise, other countries are likely to follow suit, Sinclair believes.

The proposed UK "public/private partnership" for air traffic services remains "on track" at the latest point in the parliamentary legislative process, says NATS, despite strong parliamentary opposition. The remaining legislative hurdle for approval is debate in the parliamentary upper chamber.

Source: Flight International