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For over 50 years, we’ve been helping move the world forward one step at a time by creating world class airports where air travel is safer, easier and faster for commuters.


For over 50 years, Atkins has been helping to create world class airports.

Working with airport owners, airlines, governments, lenders and construction companies, we provide multidisciplinary expertise at every stage of a project, from strategic planning through to concept and detailed design.

We believe our main strength lies in a team of individuals with a proven track record of success in the airport sector. This experience, supported by Atkins’ full range of architectural, design and engineering services, allows us to pursue and achieve excellence.

Our success is built on an in-depth knowledge of a sector we’re passionate about; we enjoy nothing more than delivering intelligent, cost effective solutions which are appropriate in a carbon conscious world.



From economic studies, operations analysis and masterplanning to architecture and integrated airport facilities, Atkins embraces every area of design, development, construction and operation.

We provide integrated services for the planning, design and delivery of all aspects of airport development, including:

Feasibility and planning

  • Feasibility studies and master planning
  • Surface access modelling
  • Traffic management and operational assessment
  • Aviation regulatory advice
  • Safeguarding assessment
  • Movement area planning and capacity analysis
  • Environmental impact studies
  • Aviation safety assessments.

Project delivery

  • Project management
  • Risk management
  • Contract administration and site supervision
  • Airfield pavement & PCI surveys
  • CDM services
  • Facilities management.


  • Airside infrastructure – pavements, AGL, NAVAIDS and ATC
  • Airport facilities – passenger terminals, cargo terminals, hangars
  • Airport systems – baggage handling systems, fire fighting systems, ICT systems including FIDS and CUTE
  • Fuel storage and distribution
  • Security systems – CULS, ICISS, PASS and more
  • Landside infrastructure – motorways, access roads, car parks.


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Benedikt Goebel
07 Jun 2017

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is no stranger to large airport improvements. Construction began recently on replacement of its 54-year-old terminal with a new, nearly $950 million terminal development program, with the Atkins/LeoADaly Joint Venture as design lead. To support the program, the airport will also construct a new terminal apron, roadways, elevated structures, new on-site parking facilities, pumping stations, extensive drainage system improvements, and airfield lighting systems. This is a massive undertaking that is among the most significant construction projects in the city since the construction of the Superdome in 1975. But behind the headline-grabbing projects lies important work that travelers rarely notice. In addition to being a key member of the design team for the new terminal and the extensive relocation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) systems, Atkins airfield electrical team performed a top-to-bottom redesign of MSY’s airfield electrical system—work that has significantly decreased energy demand and improved reliability and safety. As you can imagine, the consequences of failing to maintain and upgrade airfield electrical systems can be catastrophic. Safe and efficient movement of aircraft is a key element to ensuring air traffic demands and time schedules are met. This is particularly important at airports serving a popular tourist destination like New Orleans. As an element of the Airfield Electrical Rehabilitation Program, we performed forensic evaluation of the existing airfield lighting systems which was exhibiting performance issues. The analysis resulted in a prioritized program for airfield electrical and lighting system improvements and an extensive list of improvement options and

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George Nash
03 Apr 2017

Where we were once world leaders, the lack of investment in maintaining existing infrastructure coupled with modest development (and in some cases underdevelopment) in new and improved infrastructure has hampered our ability to move goods and services and detracted from our overall productivity. The U.S. interstate highway system is now 60 years old. Our rail system not only needs updating but expansion. Our water infrastructure needs significant refurbishment. And while the incoming administration is pledging to fund programs, we need to find ways to make the money that will be invested go further. We know from recent studies the current state of U.S. infrastructure, but we also know that states are beginning to take action at their level, as well as the new administration. Now is the time for not just fixing infrastructure but employing technology and the latest advances to improve our roadway, rail, and water systems. Funding sources We see significant momentum building. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which re-authorizes surface transportation programs through Fiscal Year 2020, was a great first step and we expect to see infrastructure spending pick up throughout 2017. Several important infrastructure ballot initiatives were passed in the November election, and a number of state governors are taking action to make infrastructure funding a high priority. A much-needed funding source is non-public investment in infrastructure. We know that there are billions of dollars available for investment if a greater flow of bankable infrastructure projects can be identified and managed. We must invest in more economic ways to maintain our

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Todd Knuckey
07 Mar 2017

As part of the Crescent City Aviation Team (CCAT), Atkins played a key role in helping MSY adapt to these fast changing market conditions as it modernizes its 50-year-old airport facilities. Only three months after breaking ground on a new $800 million, 30-gate terminal in January 2016, ongoing analysis revealed travel to New Orleans was increasing at a much greater rate than shown in the original airport planning process. This was driven by increasing domestic passenger traffic combined with MSY’s success in attracting new non-stop international flights, including from Europe and Central America. Under the direction of the Airport, CCAT was directed to conduct a study of the impact of the new demands. It was concluded that at least 35 gates were needed to accommodate the increased level of domestic flights and use of wide body aircraft for international routes. The airport conducted its own study and agreed that the new concourse needed to grow by five gates. Our challenge was to integrate the additional gates into the existing construction plans while the original construction was in progress to reduce impact to travelers. The consequences of failing to meet passenger growth can be severe for an airport and the surrounding community. Not only do airports risk losing revenue brought in by the airlines themselves, but they also risk losing passengers to neighboring airports (in this case Baton Rouge), which can potentially impact the growth of the destination city, New Orleans. But growth plans and costs must be decided prudently. As airlines work

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Nick Roberts
12 Aug 2016

It’s estimated that an average adult will make somewhere in the region of 35,000 conscious decisions every day. Granted, many of these will be fairly trivial, but a significant number of them will require us to make a choice of whether to compete or collaborate. Generally speaking competing means pursuing self-interest before all else. The gains can be more significant, but the losses too. Competition runs to the core of what businesses and business leaders, and even individuals, are expected to do. On the other hand, collaborating means that you have to share your competitive advantage and work harder to make sure the relationships with your partners run smoothly. Risk and reward for the individual companies is normally smaller but in the long term you will probably achieve a greater good. As we face increasingly complex challenges and an evolving business landscape the lines between competing and collaborating have to move closer together so we can have the best of both worlds. The people of the UK have recently been asked one of the most important questions in recent history. Do we want to forge our own way or do we want to be part of something bigger. We chose to go it alone. In other words we want to compete and to do better. It’s therefore slightly ironic that in order to do this successfully we will need to collaborate more than ever. Focusing firstly on Brexit, it is a mind-blowingly complex task to unpick countless EU rules, regulations, standards,

UK & Europe ,


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One of the most efficient ways to capture existing site conditions is with aerial drones. So when the City of Atlanta recently commissioned Atkins to help demolish and expand the North and South parking garage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), we reached out to software engineering company Autdodesk and drone technology experts 3DR Robotics to orchestrate a drone flight over Atkins’ construction site. Because the site was in the controlled airspace of an international airport, the team needed to obtain authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct the drone flight. As part of the authorization process, 3DR, Autodesk, and Atkins were able to demonstrate that the drone operation (which would be conducted in a critical location between runways) could be performed safely and without disruption to airport users. Part of the requirement for the authorization was that the flight team would be in radio contact with the ATL control tower at all times and performed all operations under the control tower’s authority. On January 10th, 2017, the team legally and safely flew the 3DR Site Scan drone over the parking garage area. The team performed a total of 7 flights, capturing over 700 nadir and oblique images, covering an area of 40 acres. This is the first FAA-approved commercial drone operation in Class B restricted airspace. The pictures were uploaded to a cloud-based program operated by 3DR, where they were automatically processed into accurate 3D point clouds. The models will be used by Atkins to plan the demolition process


As part of the Hartsfield America Joint Venture (HAJV), we provided site preparation, paving and lighting, and construction documentation for the massive 10-28 project. The assignment involved grading and drainage of a 3,000-foot segment of the 9,000-foot runway, as well as preparing construction documentation for a unique dual roadway tunnel system under two parallel connector taxiways. Atkins was also the engineer-of-record for an earthwork embankment project that required more than 17.5 million cubic yards of embankment to be divided into two sections, transported to the airport and placed on a compressed schedule, including the crossing of ten lanes of the busy I-285 highway loop. In addition, we helped design and prepare construction documents for paving, marking, lighting, and navigational aids for the entire runway, including designing a completely new airfield lighting system using state-of-the-art technology. The new lighting system utilizes LED lights which provide energy cost savings for the airport due to their longer lamp life. A key concern was the potential for differential settlement at the interface of the I-285 bridge structures. To address this issue, Atkins and the HAJV team recommended a design solution known as transition slabs, which helped keep the approach to the bridge as smooth as possible and minimize undue impact. The opening of 10-28 in 2006 was a central moment in the history of the airport and the aviation industry. Dubbed the “most important runway in America”, the fifth runway has significantly reduced air traffic congestion along the East Coast, averaging 100,000 landings and takeoffs a year


In order to complete major elements of its most recent airport master plan, the City of Atlanta selected the Ascend joint venture (JV) to provide on-call technical, professional architectural, and engineering design services for various projects at H-JAIA. As the lead firm of the Ascend JV, Atkins has been involved in some of the most notable projects at Hartsfield-Jackson. We served as the project management and design lead for the terminal roadways portion of the $1.2 billion Maynard Holbrook Jackson International Terminal. The project included structural design of the three-level, landside elevated roadway structures and mechanical stabilized earth walls, as well as an extensive drainage network. The project also included a maze of utility infrastructure that required coordination with multiple utility companies and consultants, as well as several LEED design elements. In addition, we designed new access roadways for surrounding tenants including Delta and the Federal Aviation Authority, along with coordinating traffic signals on Loop Road for shuttle connections to the main terminal. Other services provided by the Ascend JV include development of one of the first electronic airport layout plan (eALP) projects in the country at H-JAIA. We worked with a team of consultants to develop geographic information system (GIS) data including all airside features, runway and taxiway features, lighting, navaids, obstructions, virtual surfaces, and environmental layers in the airport GIS database. The tool lets airport officials, regional planning agencies and other stakeholders access airport layout plans electronically, saving costs as compared to traditional paper ALPs and helping


The initial phase of the program was the design and construction of the South Airport Automated People Mover (APM) Complex. As a subconsultant to the prime architect, Atkins is responsible for civil and transportation engineering for the South APM Complex. This initial phase included the design and construction of a new APM station, new 2,400 car parking garage, renovation of the APM station in the North Terminal, completion of the APM guideway structure to the South APM Complex, roadways, bridges, overpasses, site grading, utilities, and all associated infrastructure. The ultimate STC program will include the South APM Complex as well as an Intermodal Transportation Facility, which will serve as a hub for three passenger rail projects, including a planned $2.2 billion intercity passenger rail line from Miami. Atkins was responsible for planning the entire roadway system for the STC ultimate buildout. Atkins was also responsible for the design of the loop access roadway surrounding the South APM Complex, including planning and development of alternative roadway concepts for the ultimate transportation master plan addressing the future STC. This effort included roadway plans, stormwater conveyance systems, signing and pavement marking plans, demolition plans, utility coordination, retaining walls, and maintenance of traffic plans. The approximate length of the 2-to-4 lane loop roadway was 3 miles.  

USA , North America ,

By replacing a 5,300-foot general aviation runway with a new 8,000-foot commercial service runway, the airport has been able to increase its capacity and flexibility in handling larger commercial jets. The expansion of Runway 10R-28L was critical to the airport’s long-range development capacity goals and the overall U.S. air traffic system, increasing aircraft operations from 80 operations per hour to more than 100. Atkins served as lead designer responsible for the replacement and expansion of Runway 10R-28L and associated taxiways, leading a team of 16 specialized and local subconsultants. As project manager/engineer-of-record for the $791 million expansion, Atkins developed the design criteria package for the elevated bridge-tunnel structure, using a design-build methodology. It’s only the second time a runway in the U.S. has been elevated for active roads and rail. The expanded south runway and parallel taxiway extend over the existing airport perimeter road, Florida East Coast Railway, and US Highway 1. Atkins also performed construction administration and oversight for the project, which is among the largest construction projects of its kind to be undertaken in the U.S. Throughout the course of the project, an estimated 11,000 temporary construction jobs were created, with a $1.4 billion impact to the regional economy. The project was awarded Commercial Airport Project of the Year by the Southeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).

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Heathrow Airport is looking to improve its passenger experience while protecting its resilience and optimising commercial returns. This is a challenge at any airport, but even more so at one of the world’s busiest airports. To help Heathrow achieve this, Atkins carried out option studies and design for the re-alignment and widening of two taxiways, as well as reconfiguration of Rapid Exit Taxiways (RETs). We also performed the investigation and recommendations for implementing time based separation for arriving aircraft – helping Heathrow ensure their aircraft landing rate is maintained, even in windy conditions. Our options review for replacement of the existing Instrument Landing System (ILS) also helped make sure aircraft can clear sensitive areas sooner, increasing landing rate in low visibility.

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Traditionally Atkins’ support to Dubai Airports (DA) has been transport focussed, with signature projects including a Landside Strategic Plan, Airside Strategic Plan and Logistics Masterplan. We were commissioned to create a holistic strategy for landside multi-modal transportation operations to address the anticipated future landside transport demand at Dubai International over the next 10 years, until operations transfer over to new Al Maktoum International Airport. Building on a reputation of high quality and consistent delivery, a broad range of opportunities have now arisen, including consultancy services to support the design and implementation of an Energy Management programme and systems. This project will see Atkins play a crucial role in helping to demonstrate that DA has a robust and integrated Energy Management performance strategy. Our multidisciplinary team will work with the client to embed an energy management programme success model as part of the work, based around the core themes of People, Process and Technical. The programme’s main objectives are to create a schedule of energy improvement initiatives; baseline and monitor electricity and water consumption; integrate all energy management activities; provide control and reporting and set realistic targets to develop and manage a complete plan to meet the DSCE directive. We have also developed an Electric Vehicle Policy, Regulations and Guidelines document on behalf of DA to identify the minimum requirements for planning, delivering and managing Electric Vehicles (EVs) within the passenger terminals and concourses of Dubai International. The Guidelines also considered the development of concourses at the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai which

United Arab Emirates ,

  “We’ve had this problem since the airport opened,” said Richard Harding, Head of IT Strategy and Innovation at Heathrow. “What information can you provide to passengers when they arrive?”    In February 2016 Atkins, Heathrow and innovation partners Fluxx joined forces to help answer this question at a two day Rapid Start event.  The brief was simple:  “How can we improve the arrival experience from an hour before landing to onward transport?” Multinational teams in Dubai, India, Hong Kong, Heathrow — and one in a carriage on the Heathrow Express  — worked together for 32 hours, developing ideas, building prototypes, talking to passengers and deploying experiments in the arrivals terminals.  The teams were multi-skilled, bringing together diverse skills from Atkins and Heathrow including coders, designers, customer-facing service staff, back office technologists, baggage handling experts and members of the Heathrow Express team.  The event started with insight and inspiration from innovation partners Fluxx, sharing customer experiences from Hong Kong, Singapore and Heathrow, interviews with passengers and operations staff.  More than 25 ideas were pitched and voted on, with winning ideas including a personalised navigation app, an iPad-based bag tracking system, a personal virtual assistant for arriving passengers and intelligent signage systems.  Teams were formed around winning ideas, which were prototyped and deployed over the next two days. “The energy in the room was just fantastic,” said Justin Stenner, Head of Technology for Heathrow Express.  “You guys have looked at these problems through a passenger lens,” said Chris Annetts, Heathrow’s Director of Commercial Passenger Services, “Bringing so many creative ways to

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For more information on our work and experience in this sector please contact:


Graham Bolton 
Global aviation development director
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 3214 8725
Mob: +44 7767 44 0753

Middle East & Africa

Julian Small
Aviation market director
United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 4405 9300


Asia Pacific

Philip Chiang
Business director
Tel: +86(10) 5965 1018


North America

United States of America
Tel: +1 800 477 7275


In this section you can find technical papers and thought leadership articles produced by Atkins for the aviation sector.

Title Format Size
Airports brochure pdf 1.7MB

In this section you can find technical papers and thought leadership articles produced by Atkins for the aviation sector.

Title Format Size
Rehabilitation of Runway 9/27 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas pdf 2.5MB

In this section you can find technical papers and thought leadership articles produced by Atkins for the aviation sector.

Title Format Size
Air trade pdf 194KB
Blue sky thinking pdf 317KB


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