If we don’t modernise our airspace now …

… we could see 50 times as many flight delays as we do today.

Our airspace was designed in the 1950s for aircraft which were much less capable than today’s. Making sure that modern planes can perform to the best of their ability, together with the fact there are now many more of them in our skies, means we must make changes now.

The Government and Civil Aviation Authority believe that airspace modernisation is necessary and are providing leadership to support this. It will be delivered through a co-ordinated programme involving airports and NATS, the UK’s en-route air traffic services provider.

The public also has an important role in this. As we modernise, we will involve local communities close to airports and the travelling public, so everyone can make their views known about what our future skies should look like.


The Secretary of State for Transport recently said there is a pressing need to modernise UK airspace. This built on the Department for Transport’s UK Airspace Policy that was published in 2017, which set out why and how we need to modernise our skies. They are consulting on some further steps in this process now.

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If the UK is able to make these changes by 2025, it will bring us in line with global airspace changes, mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a part of the United Nations. The UK aviation sector’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), requires all UK airports to consult with their local communities about their proposed changes.

The CAA hosts a portal where the public can access all current consultations and offer your views.

How it will benefit…



We all lead busier and busier lives and our holidays are precious.  We want to know we’ll get away on time, arrive on time and make the absolute most of our time away. 

Modernising our airspace will improve the resilience of our flights, so we can all be more confident that our holidays and business trips will not be affected by costly delays.

It’s not just our personal travel this will help protect.  Time-critical medicines imported from markets around the world rely on having a choice of flights that must arrive on time.  So do some of the products we enjoy – from tropical fruits to our iPhone chargers!



Airspace modernisation will make it easier for airports to manage how noise impacts local communities, for example by introducing ‘planned breaks’, or respite from noise.

It will also make it easier for today’s modern aircraft to fly to their full capability with quicker climbs and later descents to help reduce noise on the ground.

The ‘stacking’ of planes as we know it will end, where aircraft queue in a circular pattern waiting to land.

Early analysis by NATS suggests airspace modernisation could deliver up to 20% of annual savings in fuel burn and CO2 emissions.



Businesses rely on aviation. From just-in-time deliveries, to global export opportunities, to international business meetings.

The UK’s aviation network is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world. The sector contributes £50 billion into our economy each year and supports 960,000 jobs.

Plans to modernise the airspace across Europe will provide capacity for the aviation industry to deliver £29 billion to UK GDP and create a further 116,000 jobs by 2035.

More frequent flights and fewer delays can allow businesses to grow by making aviation cheaper and more reliable.