Page 1: Introduction
Air travel has become a regular part of life for many people, but managing the processes surrounding it is far from simple. During the summer of 2012 the UK welcomed around 200,000 more air passengers through Heathrow and Gatwick airports than in a non-Olympic year.
Over 3,000 extra flight slots were needed for the visitors and athletes for the London Olympic Games. Making sure all flights have a safe landing and take-off is part of the responsibilities of NATS.
NATS is a global air navigation provider. The organisation was originally established in 1962 as a government body but in 2001 became a Public/Private Partnership (PPP). The PPP model of ownership meant that private funding could be invested into NATS services and infrastructure. Over £123 million has been invested since the PPP was set up.
NATS manages the world’s busiest section of airspace as well as the busiest single and dual runway airports in Europe and the Middle East. Its systems and people manage over 6,000 flights a day through UK airspace – over 2 million a year – safely and efficiently. NATS-managed flights experienced delays of just 7.3 seconds per flight in 2011, around 1/10 of the European average. The majority of delays to flights in and out of the UK are caused by factors outside NATS’ control.
Rate of growth
NATS has grown phenomenally in the last year. Its strategies have taken it from operating in just UK and Gibraltar to offering the full range of its services in 28 countries, with contracts of different sizes and values. NATS offers and operates a range of services. A main function is to manage runways and airspace through Air Traffic Control (ATC). Other roles include providing consultancy and developing solutions for operational, economic and environmental issues, engineering infrastructure and software, defence services and training. Its customers include airports, airlines and aviation authorities.
As well as managing 15 of the UK’s busiest airports, NATS projects currently include air traffic controller training and redesigning airspace in Hong Kong; providing start-up training for ATC and safety management in Slovakia; as well as providing and integrating all ATC equipment for the new control tower at Manchester airport.
NATS recognises that its people are a cornerstone of its strategy and essential to its future development. NATS offers a broad mix of challenging and exciting job roles which are open to men and women equally. These include the essential ATC role, scientists, marketing, business development, IT, finance, HR, safety, quality and business processing. With its expansion, NATS is moving from a national to international employer. This means future recruits will have a world of job opportunities to choose from.
This case study explores the strategies NATS is employing to achieve its vision of being a global provider of air traffic solutions.