Airport development and design



Following on from the conversation we started last year, and building on the five pillars, we have reached some important decisions, which form a firm foundation for the airport’s future development:



Over the next decade, we will invest in further terminal extensions, enabling us to accommodate up to 12 million passengers a year.

Beyond that milestone, we need to deliver a terminal fit for the 2030s and 2040s. Keeping flexibility in our plans is critical, as we anticipate that the coming years will continue to bring significant changes in technology, customer demands, transportation and security requirements. We believe that this can best be achieved by building on the strengths of the existing terminal building; our strategy would also allow for an additional or replacement building further to the west should the airport shift its primary focus in that direction.


Public transport interchange

Improved surface access is at the heart of the airport’s future plans. Feedback from our previous consultation made it clear that this is crucial to ensuring that our customers have the most convenient, reliable, and value-for-money means of travelling to and from the airport. 

We rely on numerous private sector partners to provide popular and commercially viable coach and bus services; our contribution includes the provision and maintenance of the necessary on-site infrastructure. Central to this are our plans for a purpose-built public transport interchange directly opposite the terminal.

This will comprise a coach and bus station, together with taxi ranks and  a drop-off zone, with an enclosed walkway providing easy pedestrian  access to the terminal. The interchange will be situated on the roof of a  new multi-storey car park, one of two to be built under the comprehensive development programme which was granted planning consent in 2011.  The initial phase of the first multi-storey block opens this spring.

This state-of-the art facility could be a first step to the delivery of a truly integrated transport hub. In the longer term, a mass transit station could form part of an integrated structure linking the terminal, coach and bus interchange, and an additional multi-storey car parking



As we stated in our previous consultation, an extended runway is not currently in our plans.In order to provide more aviation capacity to match rising passenger demand, our long-term development strategy includes the provision of an extended apron (the area used for stationary aircraft) to the north of the runway. This would provide the necessary space for further aircraft stands, but would not be required until overall passenger capacity extends beyond 12 mppa. The land required is not presently within the airport’s boundary nor under its control but forms part of the overall strategy for the airport’s long-term growth.  

This would provide the necessary space for further aircraft stands, but would not be required until overall passenger capacity extends beyond 12 mppa. The land required is not presently within the airport’s boundary nor under its control but forms part of the overall strategy for the airport’s long-term growth.  

The extended apron would sit on a large platform extending north of the runway; partly on a supported concrete slab, taking into account the local topography. If constructed, the structure would present further design options; some of these are explored in the following pages.      

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Stands and taxiways

In order to enhance the travel experience for customers, our objective is to increase both the number and proportion of contact stands that are accessed directly by passengers when boarding and alighting. As distances between the terminal and gates increase, we will look to introduce travelators (moving walkways), which are used widely at other major airports.

We will also seek to improve the taxiway infrastructure for aircraft manoeuvring between the aprons and the runway. We have identified the need for an additional taxiway at the eastern end of the runway, and in the longer term, we will need to widen existing taxiways. This will improve the efficiency of aircraft movements on the ground during peak periods.

In time, further improvements to our runways, taxiways and apron infrastructure may be required, depending on the mix of air services and aircraft types we operate.


Airport Gateway

The proposals to increase the airport’s capacity to 12 mppa will not have a significant impact on its appearance or function. However, the Master Plan offers the opportunity to assess how a fundamental redesign of the entrance and surroundings could deliver a very different welcome to the airport.

The most significant catalyst for change is likely to come in the form of a potential significant upgrade to the A38, although the probable need to secure Government funding could see implementation take some time. The current Bristol South West Economic Link Study will provide essential evidence to support the delivery of major  transport improvements.

A38 improvements would most likely trigger a re-assessment of how internal roads serve the airport site, and, as a further consequence, of the use and appearance of land on and around an enhanced airport gateway. Important land and property acquisition issues would need to be addressed, not least in relation to some properties along Downside Road that share a boundary with the airport.



An attractive boundary that contributes to the natural habitat and mitigates visual impact on neighbouring residential properties is an important objective for Bristol Airport; long-term, the five pillars will inform a still more ambitious approach to how the airport site sits within  the landscape. 

A particular priority will be our northern boundary, which we share with a public highway and residential properties along Downside Road. The Draft Master Plan, which we hope to share at the end of 2018, will explain in detail how this, and the other boundaries, will form an integral part of the overall long-term preferred scheme.  


Airside platform

The proposed apron platform would provide a future airport with a range of development options. Developing our Master Plan offers an opportunity to consider how best to construct and utilise the space created below a new apron. There are key issues to be addressed, particularly in relation to financial and construction viability, security, and environmental impact. The Draft Master Plan will seek to provide more detail on the concept, although delivery would not be expected for many years. 

The scale and location of the proposed structure will shape our approach. The platform would sit above land with a varied topography – viewed from the north, its height could range between 9 and 18 metres. The horizontal depth of the void below the platform will vary too, with the overall volume of usable space depending upon the extent to which the platform is supported by solid fill rather than structural columns. However, it is anticipated that the total available space would easily be able to accommodate one or more substantive uses.  

Our long-term development strategy will help identify the optimum outcome. The structure would be relatively close to the current terminal; if extended westwards, this proximity could be used to good effect. If a new or replacement terminal were located to the west of the current building, it could benefit back-of-house functions such as baggage handling, allowing us to deliver a more streamlined service.

Other possible uses, include a passenger handling, mass transit terminal or infrastructure, or vehicle storage. Subject to detailed assessment, other visible options could emerge, including those adding to the potential of the large north-facing façade. Hotels or office spaces, for example, could potentially provide an iconic, glazed frontage.  


Consultation point

We’ve shown you some of our current ideas for the airport’s long-term future. Is there anything else you would like us to consider in relation to:

A. The airport’s entrance gateway?

B. The airport’s boundary and public areas?

C. The airside platform extension to the airport’s aviation infrastructure?

Your comments on these design options will be of great value as we move towards publishing our Draft Master Plan.

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