Just like our roads and railways, we need our airspace — our infrastructure in the sky — to keep people moving as efficiently as possible.

Our airspace includes an intricate network of routes that keep our aircraft flying safely. At low levels, airports are responsible for their arrival and departure routes which then knit into the higher level network of routes, for which NATS is responsible. Our Future Skies brings together all of these airports and NATS to explain the work we're doing to modernise this crucial infrastructure we all rely on.


Flying has become such an important part of our everyday life. We’re used to the convenience of being able to travel on holiday and on business, and buy goods from all over the world in a speedy, reliable and affordable fashion.

The UK’s airspace handles around 2.5 million flights a year, carrying over 292 million passengers. Government forecasts tell us that by 2030 there will be 355 million passengers on 3.25 million flights. To manage this increasing demand, we need to modernise our skies. If we don’t, delays faced by passengers are likely to soar, with one in three flights being delayed by half an hour or more by 2030.

Airspace modernisation will help make journeys quicker, quieter and cleaner while delivering more capacity.

We currently track planes via ground-based beacons; a system designed in the 1950s. With new technology, such as satellite-based navigation, we can now make best use of the full capability of modern aircraft.

This gives us a great opportunity to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment while helping to deliver more capacity and keep the UK moving by reducing costly delays.