Growing Bristol Airport to welcome 12 million passengers by 2026

The eight million passengers Bristol Airport looks after each year makes it the ninth busiest airport in the UK.

With exciting and ambitious plans for growth backed by significant infrastructural investment, the Airport wants footfall to increase by half, to welcome 12 million passengers a year by 2026.

End-to-end Airport Capacity Assessment

Looking after these new passengers requires Bristol Airport to understand how it operates now, against how it will operate with and without new capital investment.

With the UK Government encouraging airports to produce Master Plans towards 2050 to enable future development and growth, Bristol Airport decided to undertake an Airport Capacity Assessment to look closely at every stage of the passenger journey.

Bristol's development plans includes new infrastructure, improvements to existing facilities and operational changes

NATS & AiQ Consulting

Working with AiQ Consulting, who are global experts in Airport Capacity Planning, NATS developed an end-to-end assessment for Bristol Airport, analysing every stage of the passenger journey from kerbside through to airspace.

By bringing together experts from air traffic control, airport operations, stand planning, baggage management and passenger flow, NATS and AiQ were able to deliver a completely integrated assessment of the whole airport operation.

This assessment enabled the Airport to validate plans for growth, and provided recommendations on key investments through the lens of passenger experience, aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues.

To support our ambitious expansion plans, we instructed NATS and AiQ Consulting to assess the current and future capacity of the whole Bristol Airport operation, focusing on the experience from our passengers’ perspective.

- Andrew Goodenough, Development Director Bristol Airport

Together with Bristol Airport, NATS and AiQ developed a range of immediate actions and longer term investments to secure the safe and efficient growth of the operation.

Three outcomes formed the basis of the assessment that included utilising data from the operations’ peak seasonal day against considered growth profiles. We assessed:

  • Current operational efficiency utilising a seasonal baseline
  • The ability of the current infrastructure to achieve 12 million passengers per annum
  • The ability of the proposed infrastructure plans to achieve 12 million passengers per annum

As a result, we identified key future operational bottlenecks, their root causes and the benefits of development options to deliver the desired passenger experience with 12 million passengers per annum.

The collaboration between NATS and AiQ Consulting provided us with an integrated airside and landside view of our airport, highlighting the strong connections between the different areas of airport operations.

- Andrew Goodenough, Development Director Bristol Airport

The result for Bristol Airport was a validated actionable roadmap that enables them to achieve their ambition of welcoming 12 million passengers by 2026.

The Airport Capacity Assessment highlighted five key recommendations to improve:


New capacity for airspace and aircraft ground movements.

Stand allocation:

Aircraft stand allocation planning to optimise aircraft and passenger flows, improving key dependencies including baggage wait times.


Plan for the Airport to engage with the Airlines to provide additional information on timely and efficient management of Immigration Procedures for passengers.


Circulation in and out of the airport with a focus on days with scheduled delays through a plan including additional remote parking and a new meet and greet waiting area.

Check-in and Security:

Free flow of passengers from the departure lounge with a technology and process roadmap through to advice on signage.

Working alongside our NATS colleagues, we seamlessly provided Bristol Airport with a holistic end to end capacity assessment, validating their plans and finding unseen capacity that supports their exciting growth targets and ambitions for significantly increased passenger footfall.

- Adrian Todd, CEO of AiQ Consulting Ltd

Thanks to the report we are satisfied that the airport’s growth targets are on track and are equipped to work on the areas that really need it. Working with an experienced third party has enabled us to affirm our future investment decisions.

- Andrew Goodenough, Development Director Bristol Airport

Bristol Airport is now confidently on track to achieve growth targets having now validated the Airport's infrastructural investment plans.

NATS, in collaboration with AiQ Consulting, continue to work with Bristol Airport to identify further efficiencies in the future.

We are delighted with the work NATS and AiQ have undertaken and look forward to working with them on more projects in the future.

- Andrew Goodenough, Development Director Bristol Airport

To discuss how we can help enhance capacity and efficiency at your airport please contact Gary.Conroy@nats.co.uk or call 07881 665962.