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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Boeing, BAE 'in air traffic talks'
Air traffic controller and radar screen
Boeing and BAE may take control of the UK skies
American aviation giant Boeing and BAE Systems are considering making a joint bid for the UK's air traffic control system.

The UK's BAE Systems confirmed that the two firms' talks had touched on the possibility, but added that it was too early to say whether they might amount to anything concrete.

This is a very major contract - clearly we're looking at it

BAE Systems

The confirmation followed comments from Boeing chairman Phil Condit in the Financial Times newspaper.

He was quoted as saying that Boeing was interested, but had not yet decided how to participate.

The proposed privatisation of the UK's air traffic control system (NATS) has been a highly controversial topic for a number of years. The government plans to sell a 46% stake sell in NATS in the first quarter of 2001.

Long-standing ties

Opponents, including unions, say that the drive to continually improve profits may compromise safety.

Boeing and BAE "could be a combination" the newspaper reported Mr Condit as saying.

The two companies already have long-standing close ties.

BAE Systems spokesman Charlie Miller said the possibility of a joint bid was something that BAE and Boeing had touched on in the course of their normal conversations, but that nothing had as yet been decided.

"From our point of view we haven't made a decision on whether we will bid or not, or if we do decide to bid who we will partner with," said Mr Miller.

Featuring in conversations

The matter was "really is at the very earliest of stages," he said.

"But clearly this is a very major contract. Clearly we're looking at it."

BAE has a "very good and longstanding relationship with Boeing which covers a wide range of programmes and businesses," said Mr Miller.

"Clearly this [the possibility of a joint bid] is now featuring in some conversations as well," he said.

US giants Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, France's Thomson-CSF of France, and Alenia Marconi Systems, a joint venture between BAE and Finmeccanica of Italy, are all believed to be interested in bidding for the Air Traffic Control System.

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See also:

27 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Air traffic sale takes off
09 May 00 | UK Politics
MPs rebel against air traffic plans
17 Feb 00 | UK
Revolution in the air
27 Jan 99 | UK Politics
Air sell-off 'could compromise safety'
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