Changes are in the air at Ronaldsway.

A report on the future of the airport has now been published, ahead of next month's Tynwald sitting.

It 'explores' a future operating model.

Isle of Man Airport: Function, Future and Form aims to identify the case for change while starting a process that reviews its current position as a division of the Department of Infrastructure to potentially become a statutory board or limited company.

So it would be more of a arm's-length operation, with a relationship a bit like that between the Department of Health and Social Care and Manx Care.

In his foreword, Infrastructure Minister Chris Thomas MHK explains: ‘It is essential that the airport operates in a way that allows it to reach its potential, and enhance its provision of air services so that they meet our needs.

‘This examination is to determine things like how or even whether our airport should be part of the Department of Infrastructure, and how an alternative operating model could result in less public subvention, as well as enhanced air services and facilities that I know the travelling public wish to see.’

Sections 1 and 2 of the document set the scene in terms of how the airport currently operates — covering organisational structure, regulation, services and stakeholders — before highlighting the challenges which need to be addressed and how an alternative model may be appropriate.

One of the main considerations underpinning the report is the need to strike a balance between the airport’s function as a critical lifeline serving the needs of the island and making the most of commercial opportunities.

Section 3 explores this theme further be asking ‘Where do we want to be?’

This sets the scene for the future publication of a masterplan, which will aim to reflect the overall vision through policy and planning objectives.

These objectives could be achieved through remediation, such as air traffic control and security provision, terminal redevelopment and a fresh strategic approach in terms of assets, general aviation and contingency planning.

The recommendation that is being brought forward is incremental, with a Stepped Transition Process infographic illustrating a three-step progression and criteria to determine whether change is necessary to deliver improvements sought by the travelling public.

In receiving the report at the April sitting of Tynwald, members will be asked to note the incremental approach to operating the airport at arm’s length and the intention to proceed to Step 2 of the stepped transition process.

They will also be asked to note the formation of the shadow board and high-level implementation plan.