Free «Guidance for Airport Operators on the Preparation of Airport Master Plans» Essay Sample


An airport master plan is a proposal that states any major infrastructural developments or changes that will be undertaken by the airports authority in the future. It may also include any possible plans to increase or ease accessibility of the airport, for example new or expanded motor ways, train systems and/or bus services. In order to ensure effectiveness, an airport master plan should contain detailed information on any form of future plans for development or changes. Also, since environmental concerns are global, all airport operators should follow a similar guideline while creating a master plan regardless of size and geographic location. While allowing for flexibility in terms of local circumstances of each individual airport, the guidance stipulates that a good master plan should ensure that all operators strike a balance between the world’s economic, social and environmental goals. This means that while the airport operators continue to develop changes in order to provide additional airport capacity, they also consider the negative effects of the aviation industry and invest in managing and mitigating these environmental impacts. Being a proposal, an airport master plan should be able to meet five primary aspects.

i.)  Forecast the Increase in Demand, that is Passengers, Cargo Handling and Operations Capacity

Proposals for expansion or development of new infrastructure are usually based on trying to fulfill a particular need or want in the market. In this case, the airport authorities are trying to increase their capacity in order to enable them to meet an increased demand for air travel. This forecast is vital for justifying the intended infrastructure expansions and/or developments.

ii.) Identify the Facilities that Require Development

For a facility to require development, it should be the only means that can be employed in availing the required services to air travelers. Some facilities can be expanded, or their use can simply be maximized through other measures. Putting these into consideration, airport operators should be able to identify the facilities that require mandatory development in order to serve an increased number of customers (Well & Young, 2004).

iii.)  Development of Concepts

The airport authority needs to come up with development plans for the identified facilities. It also has to liaise with the airlines and other airport tenants on these development plans to ensure minimal inconveniences and losses to all involved stakeholders. The airport authority will need to indulge a Retail Enhancement Plan, so as to ensure that the heavy costs incurred by the developments are not burdened on specific stakeholders. The authority should furthermore come up with possible expansions or new developments of airport access roads and railways where needed (Kirwan, Rodgers & Schafer, 2005). While it should coordinate with its stakeholders, the airport authority will need to also involve the public in drawing up its development concepts to mitigate possible public outcries if any. All these developments should be in accordance with the airport’s Land Use Plan, and therefore any necessary revisions to the plan should be done before the strategic developments are commissioned to start.

iv.)  Estimate the Cost and Create a Financial Plan

After coming up with development plans, coordinating with stakeholders, indulging public opinion and distributing development costs, the airport authority needs to do some estimation for the total expenses to be incurred. Thus, the developers have to create a financial plan that clearly shows how it intends to finance these development projects. If public financing will be sought, this is where it is realized and stated. A financial feasibility analysis for specific development and expansion projects should then be conducted to determine the ability of these expansions or new developments to create more income and generate their construction costs. The benefit-cost analysis of each proposed development or expansion should be carried out to ensure that the airport remains both relevant and profitable socially, economically and environmentally. The viable alternative is then settled upon and a financial plan is drawn (Walters & Samwalt, 2000).

v.) Get an Environmental Impact Assessment Carried Out

The main reason for writing a master plan is to ensure that there is a credible balance between the social, economical and environmental impacts of an airport. In order to achieve this, the operator will need to conduct an assessment for all the impacts it has on its surroundings. This will include how many employment opportunities it offers, how many people’s livelihoods will be affected by a given expansion or new development, how much more noise it will create by expanding its operations, how much more harmful gas emissions can be expected with increasing demand and supply, how many more people will be able to afford the services provided by the airport, and any other possible effects. These should be done by an independent body and the report tabled to the authorities, the government and also availed to the general public for analysis. This report will be the basis for creating mitigation and compensation measures when writing the master plan.

Purpose and Intended Effect of Measure

i.) The Objective

The purpose of creating a guide for Airport Operators on the completion of Airport Master Plans is to ensure that operators produce master plans that, despite being less consistent, are able to provide to a large extent some level of certainty for local and regional planning purposes, and also for investment purposes by the various stakeholders and other interested persons. A large amount of flexibility in the guidance is ensured to allow operators some scope to determine the degree of burden that they are prepared to accept, and, in some circumstances, flexibility as to the timing of the expenditure. Streamlining how a master plan should be prepared ensures that in all airports, the plan will outline an indication of the operator’s plans for the development of infrastructure as the basis for strategic policy on higher levels for each airport in the White Paper, and thus bring more clarity and confidence for all those interested or affected. The plan will also contribute to the long-term resource planning for players on different levels, both local and regional, especially in the stage of developing local strategies. They will be useful for maintaining communication patterns with different stakeholders, including airlines, financial institutions, local politicians and others, to make their investment decisions be founded on the data. They will assist airport operators in creating defined cornerstones  from the very beginning of their projects, like the submission of a planning application, construction and opening. Moreover, they will deliver a consistent and generally recognized vehicle for the political power, devolved administrations and their agencies to keep track of the progress being made in applying the White Paper at each airport.

The guidance for airport operators clarifies the required scope of a master plan. It is designed to encourage broad consistency between the master plans of different airports but allow sufficient flexibility to reflect local circumstances in the scale and timing of development proposals at individual airports.

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ii.) Background

The White Paper The Future of Air Transport (Cm 6046, December 2003) recommends that an Airport Master Plan should have a detailed development proposal that will be essential in informing the content of the Local Development Framework. It should be clear on the intentions of the airport authority in planning for particular developments so as to allow for consideration in the local and regional planning processes. It should be clear on the airport authority’s infrastructural development plans, and should reflect local circumstances of the individual airport as well as its compliance with the White Paper.

The Airport Master Plan should clearly elaborate the role that the facility will play in the future of the region. This is because the growth of the facility will significantly alter land use planning, surface transport, employment, housing and environmental issues of the locality. Local residents, businesses and other stakeholders should also be able to know of the proposed expansion of an airport and how the resulting impacts would affect their lives and livelihoods.

The smaller airports should also produce a master plan based on the White Paper’s conclusions on development at individual airports and forecast air transport movements in 2030. The Airport Master Plan should include a possible change in flight paths, curfews, aircraft movement cap, inclusion of new runways, and even new arrangements on access for regional or international airlines. The Airport Master Plan should clearly state any intentions by the Airport Authorities to upgrade existing airport facilities such as hangars, terminals, freight facilities, aircraft parking space, airport roads and car parking lots. An Airport Master Plan should be able to determine whether the planned developments or changes are aimed at meeting the increasing demand for air transport, or to mitigate the negative effects of aviation on the environment.

An Airport Master Plan should include information about the stakeholders and community consultations, the existing statutory and policy framework, the significance of the planned developments and/or changes to the region and economy, and the considered aviation and activity forecasts. It should also have master plan concepts on the existing airfields, terminal and passenger systems, freight, aviation support facilities, commercial development, and landside access (Wells & Rodriguez, 2004). It should include a land use zoning plan, plans on safety management systems and air space protection measures. It should also have a report on the sustainability, climate change and environmental management strategies to be employed. Additionally, it should indicate if there are any plans of upgrading the motor ways around the airport.

The Airport Master Plan

A good and complete Airport Master Plan should contain relevant information as of the airport’s compliance with the White Paper. It should provide accurate information on how it is employing a balanced and measured approach towards providing additional airport capacity and mitigating the ill effects of the aviation industry. For a relevant and effective Airport Master Plan, all airport operators should set out in detail their development proposals for the period to 2015 and an outline indication of their planning by 2030, under the following headings:

I.) Airport’s Current Position

This includes geographical location and surroundings, its proximity to residential, business and industrial districts, number of employment opportunities it has created, and how it affects the economy of the local area and the livelihoods of the resident population. These aspects cover the social, economic and environmental concerns as addressed in the White Paper The Future of Air Transport (Cm 6046, December 2003). This information is important because it is the threshold when determining how much progress a particular airport intends to make towards striking the required balance between the global economic, social and environmental goals.

II.) Passenger and ATM Forecasts

These are based on the increasing demand for air transport, the assessment of arrangements for regional and international airlines and the airport’s growth projections for the future. Each airport has growth projections as part of the business plans and these are mandatory in planning any future infrastructure developments. Any projections that ascertain a tremendous increase in demand justifies the planned changes and/or developments, although they have to come with measures that can cut down on the negative environmental impacts resulting from these developments.

III.) Capacity Requirements

After finding out how much increase in capacity should be expected, the airport authority has to state how much infrastructural development or changes need to be implemented in order to meet the forecasted operational capacity. Accurate forecasts and predictions are needed to establish changes that will commensurate with the increase in the number of users. There have been incidences where the changes made could not accommodate the increase in number of users.

IV.) Option Development and Appraisal, Including Surface Access Schemes

In order to meet the projected capacity, an airport may need to build new facilities, expand the existing ones, or simply maximize the use of the current facilities. While catering for the increase in demand, the airport operators are encouraged to opt for developments that do not incur adverse mitigation costs in their environmental effects. For example, the need for additional runways can be met by simultaneously using the existing ones for landing and take-off without having to build more and expose more people to the noise pollution.

The airport operator is also required to state any possible upgrading of motor ways, introduction of new bus services or faster and more frequent railway transportation.

The options settled on should be those that best meet the environmental concerns raised, and the operator should be able to explain whether a particular development is made to meet the increasing demand for air travel or to limit the negative effects of the aviation industry.

The airport authority should state clearly the reasons behind an expansion or a new construction, and why there is no other way to deal with the increased capacity.

V.) Preparation of Detailed Plans for Preferred Options

Airport Master Plans should also include a viable time frame, during which these developments will take place, with great effort on minimizing inconveniences and losses incurred during transitions.

VI.) Appraisal of Impacts on the Environment and People

The preferred developments should be assessed and their impacts on the environment, and the people should be clearly indicated in the plan. For example, if an airport authority decides to build more runways, how many people will be displaced to create the necessary land space, how many more people will be exposed to the noise, how many more jobs will be created, and how much more pollution will be experienced. Listed above are all aspects that should be mentioned in this part of the master plan.

VII.) Schemes to Address Blight, Mitigation and Compensation

The impacts of development may sometimes lead to blight, displacement and/or pollution and these will require serious mitigation and compensation measures that should be in place well before the developments even start. When an airport requires new developments, the resident population is displaced in order to create the required space for the expansion. These people need to be relocated by the airport authorities, thus a compensation scheme is mandatory. Also in the case of environmental concerns brought about by the developments, a mitigation scheme should be in place to deal with these concerns. The creation of these schemes shows the commitment of the respective airport authority towards achieving a balance between the economic, social and environmental goals.

VIII.) Financial and Economic Appraisal of Development Proposals (in Case Public Funding is being Sought)

The financial and economic appraisal of the chosen infrastructural development proposals is only mandatory if the airport operator is seeking public funding. This is so as to avail the information to all interested persons and stakeholders alike. If public funding is not being sought, an entire financial and economic appraisal is totally unnecessary.

IX.) Indicative land use plans for the period from 2016 to 2030.

An airport operator should state all the long-term land use plans as per the development needs of that particular airport. However, there would still be a considerable scope for variation between master plans, reducing their effectiveness as tools for monitoring progress in delivery of the White Paper. This can be curbed by judging each airport relatively with consideration given to other variables such as its size and local circumstances, like geographical location, political and economic status (Donohue, 2001). This guide ensures that Airport Master Plans fulfill all the roles required of them, allowing all of the possible benefits to be harnessed. Airports are hereby not at liberty to determine the form and content of master plans, and hence to a large degree the amount of expenditure necessary to comply with the White Paper’s expectations. They may accordingly be unwilling to allocate significant funds for preparing a master plan but still do it as it is not optional. The compliance costs applicable to this guide vary with IATA classifications of the numerous airports, thus the costs incurred are standardized as per international airport rankings.

Conclusion/ Recommendations

When writing a master plan, airport operators need to invest adequately to ensure that accurate relevant information is provided. While recognizing that different airports in different locations undergo different circumstances and constraints, this guidance creates a necessity for all airport authorities to state their impacts on the surroundings by evaluating its economic, social and environmental impacts (United States Federal Aviation Administration, 1997). This guidance also emphasizes on operators stating the measures that they intend to employ to deal with statutory blight and other negative impacts of airport operations, well before they start their developments. The proposed master plan structure, which is advocated by this guidance, ensures that the key components of each airport’s infrastructure development proposals are brought forward in good time. Moreover, it makes sure that sufficient level of detail is present to inform the local and regional planning process. In suggesting core and optional components it should be able to ensure a consistent approach to master plan production while retaining scope for the flexibility necessary to reflect the differing scale and timescales of development schemes at individual airports and the various local constraints which will apply. In not seeking to adopt too prescriptive approach and not requesting the inclusion of elements such as detailed economic appraisal, this approach is not excessively burdensome on airport operators. Thus, it will ensure that disproportionate time is not spent on master plan production. All of the work necessary to prepare a master plan will also be necessary to inform the preparation of a planning application.

The production of a master plan to the proposed DfT specifications would entail undertaking this work at an earlier stage. This offers the opportunity to identify potentially contentious issues and trigger points at an earlier stage in the planning process, and in the longer term may offer benefits, which are difficult to quantify, in the improved efficiency of the planning process. Similarly, the master plan preparation process may help to identify contentious issues at an early stage and offers scope to reduce the elements which are examined in detail at a public local inquiry. A detailed master plan in this form provides a clear indication of the location and nature of future developments. This benefits not only the airport, but also local stakeholders and the public, who will not be faced with extended periods of uncertainty following publication of the White Paper. All businesses in aviation and other sectors heavily dependent on air accessibility (such as the engineering, electronics and pharmaceuticals sectors) will benefit from knowledge of airport operators’ long-term plans and will be able to make local investment decisions earlier and with a greater degree of certainty.


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