Planning for Sustainability: the Role of Airport Surface Access Strategies As a Means of Reducing Car Dependency for Airport Access Trips

Planning for Sustainability: the Role of Airport Surface Access Strategies As a Means of Reducing Car Dependency for Airport Access Trips


I Humphreys and S Ison, Loughborough University, UK



Most of the major European airports are currently operating close to capacity and air traffic is likely to grow despite the effect of September 11th 2001. One negative effect of this growth is the implication for surface access capacity at airports and its associated congestion, environmental and social degradation.

A major challenge for airports is to make efficient use of surface access capacity that is currently dominated by private car trips. At major European airports the private car typically accounts for over 65 per cent of all trips and at smaller regional facilities this can be as much as 99 per cent (Humphreys, 1996, Ashford et al 1997, Mandle, Mansel and Coogan, 2000, Kazda and Caves 2000). The challenge is made even more complex because of the movement towards a more commercialised and privatised airport management sector within the European Union.

In response to the problem in the UK, the Government, through the 1998 Transport White Paper ?A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone? has charged all airports in England and Wales with leading an Airport Transport Forum (ATF). It was envisaged that each Forum would encompass key stakeholders and be responsible for producing an Airport Surface Access Strategy (ASAS) in order to encourage more trips to airports by public modes of transport.

The aim of this paper is to review and assess Airport Surface Access Strategies as a means of reducingcar dependency for employee surface access trips to airports. In total 27 airports in England and Wales have each been responsible for setting up an Airport Transport Forum and preparing an ongoingAirport Surface Access Strategy. This means that the ASAS covers a wide range of airport sizes, fromLondon Heathrow with 460,000 air transport movements per annum to Biggin Hill with less than 2000. In order to achieve the aims of this paper a detailed review of a sample of ASAS?s has been undertaken and comparisons made in terms of public transport improvements to achieve targets for reduced car dependency.

The paper compares and contrasts the strategies of small, medium and large scale airports in England and Wales. Best practice is identified and wider application expounded. The paper analyses and identifies the aim of Airport Surface Access Strategies as envisaged by the Government and what has actually been achieved. This paper provides an insight into the issues for European airports in terms of reducing car dependency in an increasingly privatised and commercialised environment.


Association for European Transport