Planning for the future

Preparing our Master Plan


To ensure airports like Bristol support their regional economies and keep local stakeholders informed of future intentions, the Government encourages us to publish our plans for long-term development. These Master Plans help us assess future requirements and also give local councils and businesses information on which to base their own long-term strategies and investment decisions.

Our new Master Plan will be particularly important as we look to support the emerging West of England Strategy, and the related Joint Spatial Plan and Joint Transport Study. Our vision will support the ambitions set out in these key regional plans.


Our previous Master Plan

Our last Master Plan was published in 2006 and this generated more than 30 initiatives and projects which, when complete, will enable us to serve ten million passengers a year.

At the time we envisaged growing to between ten and twelve million passengers a year by 2030. Our current forecasts put us on track to surpass the higher threshold slightly ahead of schedule, and extending our horizon to 2050 means we now need to consider the potential for annual demand to reach around 20 million passengers in the future.


Preparing our new Master Plan

In its emerging Aviation Strategy2, the Government recognises there is a growing national need for airport capacity, and that airports across the UK, like Bristol, provide a vital contribution to the economic wellbeing of the whole country.

With increasing demand for air travel and Britain’s place in the world changing, we have identified a need for an airport serving circa 20 million passengers a year by the mid 2040s.

This further expansion is founded upon a clear and compelling vision for the airport’s future which is shared across the region and delivers what customers want in a way which is sensitive to the environment and local communities.

Right now, the UK Government and the four unitary authorities in the West of England are making decisions on national and regional transport strategies for the next two decades. A new Master Plan will give decision-makers the information they need to develop this crucial policy framework, although it should be noted that the critical issue of airspace change will be dealt with through a separate process.

Demand for air travel is on the rise, Britain’s place in the world is changing and technological advances are revolutionising aviation. The need for more airport capacity nationally is recognised by Government.

Against this backdrop, piecemeal improvements will not deliver the full connectivity and economic potential the South West of England and South Wales need to compete on a national and global scale.

We need to meet your future needs for business, holidays, sports and educational trips, and visits to friends and family. Many passengers tell us they like to fly from their local airport.


The planning process

The scale and type of development proposed in our final Master Plan will influence the planning route we follow.

Development which increases our capacity by ten million or more passengers a year would qualify as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). NSIPs require a Development Consent Order, which is determined by the Secretary of State for Transport after a thorough examination of the application by Inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State. This process was introduced by the Planning Act 2008 to create an efficient and more streamlined system for the determination of certain projects serving a national need.

Development which increases our capacity by less than ten million passengers a year would be determined through a planning application to North Somerset Council, the local planning authority.

In order to decide the most appropriate process and mechanism for delivery of the airport’s expansion and development, we will be working closely with the council. Irrespective of the planning route taken, Bristol Airport is committed to seeking the views of local people and stakeholders.


Our five pillars

To make sure we get the best possible outcome for our passengers, neighbours and the region as a whole, our new Master Plan will be guided by five pillars:

Pillar 1.jpg

A world-leading regional airport

Delivering easy and convenient access, excellent on-time performance, friendly and efficient customer service, a great range of destinations, state-of-the-art facilities and a distinctive sense of place that reflects the unique part of the world we serve.

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Employment and economic growth

Creating employment and supporting economic growth by connecting the South West of England and South Wales to new markets, talent and tourists.

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Pillar 3.jpg

Integrated transport network

Making Bristol Airport an integrated transport hub by bringing together different modes of transport, not just for our passengers and staff, but also for people travelling within, to and through the region.

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Pillar 4.jpg

A sustainable approach

Seeking to reduce and mitigate our effect on communities and the environment, locally and globally, as well as finding opportunities to deliver enhancements.

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Pillar 5.jpg


Developing proposals which are flexible enough to be delivered in phases to meet demand, and which represent value for money for passengers, airlines and other stakeholders.

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2 Beyond the horizon, the future of UK aviation, a call for evidence on a new strategy, HM Government (July 2017)

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