Remuneration of Air Traffic Controllers

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Remuneration of Air Traffic Controllers

33RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Ottawa, Canada, 18-22 April 1994

WP No. 139

Remuneration of Air Traffic Controllers


The SC4 programme contained the items “Review of existing IFATCA Policy” and “Review of the ILO conclusions”. In both reviews a statement was found about the remuneration of ATCO’s. There is an IFATCA Policy and an ILO conclusion which are comparing the remuneration of ATCO’s with the remuneration of airline pilots. SC4 is of the opinion that this comparison is outdated and that the IFATCA Policy has to be changed. It must be noted that a change of the ILO conclusion is outside the scope of IFATCA.


Below the relevant IFATCA policy and ILO Conclusion are quoted.

IFATCA Policy (Manual page 4141 para 4.2 – Remuneration Principle)

“Remuneration for air traffic controllers should be relative to those of the most senior captains of the international airline of the country concerned. In case where a particular country does not operate an international airline of its own, comparison should be made to such international airlines serving the respective country.”


ILO Conclusion (number 27)

“Because of the uniqueness of the air traffic control profession, it does not readily lend itself to comparisons with other professions, However, to ensure that the ATCO’s remuneration is commensurate with their responsibilities, it should be noted that one of the professions in which the responsibilities assumed closely resemble that of the ATCO is that of the professional pilot. In fact, in at least one country, the controller’s remuneration has been compared and linked to that of airline captain. In many countries ATCOs are compared to other public servants for remuneration purposes due to their employment status which has led to considerable dissatisfaction among ATCO’s. In all cases, the trade unions and/or the appropriate organisations concerned should be consulted on the proposed remunerations resulting from these comparisons.”


It is more than a decade ago that the ILO and IFATCA decided on the remuneration principle of ATCO’s. This principle was the comparison of the remuneration of ATCO’s and pilots, but much has changed in Air Traffic Control during the years, increase of traffic, increase of responsibilities, etc. Also in the past the uniqueness of the air traffic control profession was stated, but due to the changes in our profession SC4 is of the opinion that our job is nowadays of a level of uniqueness that even a comparison with pilots remuneration is not adequate anymore. The remuneration of ATCOs should be related to their own status.

In 1987 the ILO published the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO88). This document provides a system for classifying and aggregating occupational information obtained by means of population censuses an other statistical surveys, as well as from administrative records. The ISCO-88 is containing a scale of 10 major groups of occupation. On this scale of 10, the controller in the past was classified as class 4 (clerks), but has been upgraded to class 3 (Technicians and Associate Professionals). So, the “employment status” of the controller has been up-graded.


The ILO conclusion and the IFATCA policy on remuneration is outdated, the comparison with pilot remuneration is not adequate anymore. Remuneration of ATCO’s should be based on the “employment status” in accordance with ISCO-88. A change of the ILO conclusion is outside the scope of IFATCA.


That the present IFATCA Policy (Manual page 4141 para 4.2) be replaced by the following:

4.2.1 Remuneration of ATCOs should be recognise the uniqueness of the Air Traffic Control profession and the associated responsibilities.

4.2.2 Remuneration of ATCOs should reflect their “employment status” in accordance with ILO Publication ISCO*-88, in which Air Traffic Controllers have been put in a category that includes Aircraft pilots, Ships’ officers, and other related “associate professionals”. * International Standard Classification of Occupations.

4.2.3 Remuneration should be commensurate with acquired levels of skill and experience. The remuneration of ATCOs should therefore reflect their skills and also have relation to the acquired amount/type of ratings. 4.2.4 When an ATCO is assigned additional tasks, such as instruction or systemdevelopment, this should also be reflected by a higher remuneration level.

Last Update: September 20, 2020  

December 23, 2019   806   Jean-Francois Lepage    1994    

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