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Typical annual air travel for OS staff

This Freedom of Information request asks for details of air travel in a typical year by OS staff.

Request for information - Ref No: FOI20942


Thank you for your email of 30 January 2020, requesting information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, as set out in the extract below:

As owner of Bournemouth International Airport, we would like to understand the typical annual travel of 'OS' staff members. Please could you advise which cities are travelled to by air in a typical year, how many trips are undertaken per annum to each city and, on average, how many staff members per trip are travelling?

Our response

I confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold some of the information that you have requested. Where the information is not held or exempt from disclosure this is stated. Taking each request in turn, I confirm the following:

1. Which cities are travelled to by air in a typical year

2. How many trips are undertaken per annum to each city in a typical year

I confirm we hold an estimate in relation to the information at question 1 and 2 however, we consider this information to be exempt from disclosure under section 43(2) (Commercial Interests) of the FOIA, as explained below:

Section 43(2) (Commercial Interests) of the FOIA

The Information Commissioner recognises that some public authorities are permitted to engage in commercial activities and that information held in relation to these will fall within the scope of Section 43(2).

Disclosure of information relating to which cities (internationally and nationally) are travelled to and the number of trips undertaken to each city, would be likely to provide our competitors with a commercial advantage, as our competitors would be in a position to identify where Ordnance Survey may already be working or where we may be looking to work in the future with other Organisations or Governments. Therefore, we consider the disclosure of this information, would be likely to undermine our ability to operate competitively in the commercial market in which we operate.

This is a qualified exemption and we are required to consider the public interest.

Public Interest Test

Ordnance Survey recognises the need for transparency; however, this must be balanced against the public interest in allowing Ordnance Survey (and third parties) to protect its commercial information and not place itself at a disadvantage commercially. Section 43(2) is a prejudice-based exemption, and there is a public interest inherent in avoiding the harm specified. Ordnance Survey considers that the prejudice would be likely to occur and could involve an adverse effect on Ordnance Survey’s revenues.

Having considered the above, we are satisfied that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

3. On average, how many staff members per trip are travelling in a typical year

In relation to question 3 above, I confirm that we do not hold this information. By way of explanation, Ordnance Surveys business is forever changing and evolving as new opportunities present themselves. Information on the number of staff travelling varies greatly year by year and is dependent on the size and nature of the projects Ordnance Survey is involved with at that time.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.  If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our Internal Review Officer by contacting them, within two months of receipt of our final response to your Freedom of Information (FOI) request, as follows:

Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Contact us via our FoI form

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal, within three months of receiving our response, with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Further information can be found on the ICO website ( under ‘Report a concern’ or you may wish to call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113.