Martin Rolfe

Chief Executive Officer

I am very pleased to be introducing the Customer Report for 2015, a year which wasn’t just a first for me as Chief Executive, but also for some of the most important projects we have been working to deliver for you.

Customer service underpins everything we do at NATS; listening to your feedback and acting on it to deliver the improvements you seek. 

Our annual customer survey is really important in helping us get the focus right and I’m delighted that we achieved our highest-ever overall score. Your top scores were for safety, fuel and emissions reduction - and giving you confidence that we are building improvements into our day to day working. 

I think this was helped by a number of milestones in 2015 with first steps into operation of tools which will revolutionise our future service delivery. 

The first year of Time Based Separation (TBS) at Heathrow has delivered, on average, three additional aircraft per hour in strong headwind conditions.  The initial Extended Arrival Management (XMAN) trial was so successful, saving up to a minute’s holding time per aircraft, that we implemented it permanently in October.  Reduced Lateral Separation (RLat) has halved lateral separation between the core tracks on the North Atlantic.

We moved quietly into a temporary ops room at Swanwick to prepare for the new iTEC (Interoperability Through European Collaboration) platform for SESAR deployment, already in limited use at Prestwick.  And we are in the first year of AQUILA operations, our joint venture with Thales, to transform military airfields.

Increasingly our expertise in the UK is being recognised internationally, and it is gratifying to win overseas contracts acknowledging our service strength.

You would like us to work more closely with our airport customers, and improve value and cost efficiency, and operational delay. You also expressed frustration at delays to low-level airspace change over the London TMA, slowed by political discussion and consultation about policy and guidance. We share your concerns about the lack of clear Government support for airspace change.

Notwithstanding that, we delivered the first phase of the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP1A) in February following the CAA’s approval last year, and we have first stage of Prestwick Lower Airspace Systemisation (PLAS) to look forward to later this year.  Meantime we continue to address hotspots and with our international partners push on with other cross border initiatives including free route airspace.

But we do need greater partnership across the UK industry in persuading Government of the need to modernise airspace. We are already working with the trade associations and looking to do more through CAA’s Future Airspace Strategy, and we will be asking you, our customers, to join with us to keep the pressure on.

This year’s is a streamlined report which I hope you find useful as a reminder and reference.  And of course, my door is always open if you would like to discuss it.


Martin Rolfe
Chief Executive Officer