Air Traffic Management Strategy

ATS Transition at Benbecula and Wick John O'Groats

In December 2019, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) Board approved a recommendation to pursue a change in the level of Air Traffic Service (ATS) provision at Benbecula and Wick John O’Groats airports from an Air Traffic Control (ATC) service to an Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) as part of its wider air traffic management modernisation programme.  The project to deliver this service level change will involve two phases - phase one is the Benbecula Airport Transition Project which is underway and runs from August 2020 to April 2022.  Phase two is the Wick John O’Groats Airport Transition Project which will run from January 2022 to December 2023. 

Benbecula Airport currently provides an Air Traffic Control (ATC) Service for circa 4,000 aircraft movements per annum and traffic levels are not expected to significantly increase in the future. The airport serves scheduled flights to and from Stornoway, Inverness (via Stornoway) and Glasgow Airports and is also used by charters, general aviation, air ambulance and search and rescue (SAR) flights outside published operating hours.

Due to the low number of aircraft movements, low complexity of the airspace environment and the nature of the operation at Benbecula airport, HIAL proposes to change the level of Air Traffic Service (ATS) provision from an Air Traffic Control (ATC) service to an Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS). This will provide an ATS service level that is proportionate and more appropriate for the level of traffic served whilst ensuring the continued provision of a safe, efficient, and regulatory compliant ATS to the airport and its airspace users. This change in ATS is expected to have minimal impact on flights operating to and from Benbecula and no changes to aerodrome facilities or operational hours.

This change will follow the airspace change proposal processes prescribed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Civil Aviation Publication (CAP) 1616 and the safety assurance processes prescribed in CAP 760.  The information document below offers a concise background, context, rationale and description of the change and focuses on the Benbecula transition phase of the project.

Benbecula Airport - Change of Category of Air Traffic Service – Information Update  21 April 2021

You can view more information about the AFIS Centre of Excellence here.