London Oxford Airport continues to grow
London Oxford Airport now ranks among the top five UK business aviation airports, according to latest Eurocontrol statistics.
In March it ranked just behind London City Airport, in 5th place. This is based on its handling of close to 6,000 annual business aviation movements, year to date. Comparing March 2011 with March 2012, London Oxford Airport saw a 9% growth, while year to date growth is 12.2%. Currently, it is handling 42% more business aviation traffic than London Stansted.
Over the five years since it was acquired by the Reuben Brothers in 2007, London Oxford Airport has experienced substamtial growth with its daily business aircraft departures increasing 116.67% - making it the fastest growing of any business aviation airport in the UK. The only other mainland-UK airport to show an increase in movements during this period is Bournemouth Airport, which achieved a 37.21% increase.
Speaking at a pre-EBACE media briefing today, London Oxford Airport’s managing director, Chris Orphanou, said: “We can today reflect on a solid performance these past five years. The number of tenant companies here has grown significantly too, with some 20 companies employing over 800 people at the airport today. We look after 25 30 resident business aircraft here, including a number of larger Global Express’ for both charter and private use. We are home to seven AOC charter operators – five of whom have set up within the past five years. The latest, Indian-backed Fly Vectra, moved in just a few months ago.”
The airport is also host to a variety of maintenance support providers on nearly all business and general aviation aircraft, including PremiAir (Hawker and Beechcraft); Air Med (Cessna Service Centre, plus Piper and Learjet approvals); EBAS (Bombardier Challenger/Global series); Hangar8 plc – Hawker/Citation/Falcon/Challenger; Eurocopter (UK HQ); Embraer Executive Jet Services – Phenom family, Legacy line support; OAA (Piper, Socata, Cessna).
The airport’s growth has been backed by consistent investment in infrastructure and hangar facilities and during May 2012 the airport will go live with a new radar. “Clientele are increasingly finding that London Oxford Airport has many benefits over other London airports, and arriving visitors from Europe and the Middle East are discovering we are a viable, efficient and cost effective option,” added business development director James Dillon-Godfray. “Being located to the north west of London, with access to the capital via the fastest UK motorway, the M40, with the least congestion of any London arterial route, gives us a notable advantage.”
The airport’s new radar has been supplied by Thales UK, under project management by NATS. It represents an investment of some £4.5 million along with a completely new communication system upgrade.The primary and secondary (Mode-S, MSSR) surveillance radar system will enable more efficient transits through local airspace, as well as increase the throughput of IFR flight activity (from nine minutes to under three minutes’ separation). Oxford can now follow air traffic movements half way up the county, beyond London out to the Thames Estuary, south as far as the English Channel and to the west over Wales.
The airport has also encountered major runway, apron and ramp developments. The runway’s licensed lengths were increased by up to 21% last year. Additionally, runway strength was reassessed at a PCN of 38 making it suitable for use by a number of heavier business jets. The airport is now routinely visited by larger jet types, including the Embraer Lineage and Avro RJ. The enhanced runway length enables longer range private jets such as the Globals, Falcon 7X and G550 family to undertake transatlantic flights on a commercial basis.
In addition, the airport also boasts a new 17,800m2 (4.4 acres – equivalent to three football pitches) high strength apron and has resurfaced 5,000m2 of established surfaces, representing a £2.2m project providing a considerable enhancement in ramp capacity and infrastructure. This has doubled the parking capacity at the airport, bringing it to a total of 35,000m” (8.65 acres). “This has been accomplished in time to meet the demands from this summer’s Olympics traffic, where we will be able to park up to 40 business jets,” explained Dillon-Godfray.
Currently, work is advancing on the first new office blocks to be constructed at the airport for 20 years. One of two, three storey, 12,500 sq.ft. (1200m2) buildings are being constructed at the entrance to the airport. A new four lane entrance and reception building is also planned This follows on from an 80% increase in hangarage capacity over five years with close to a quarter of a million square feet now available (23,000m2). Furthermore, London Oxford Airport plans to explore expanding its 150 bedroom accommodation complex to a 350-bedroom one.
Preparations for this summer’s London Olympics are already underway at London Oxford Airport. “We have taken bookings for a handful of slots to date and received many enquiries,” added Dillon-Godfray. For now, it's first come, first served at Oxford, but that policy may change as we see demand increasing. The airport expects to see a three-fold increase in business aviation traffic during the peak period of the Games (i.e 30 business jets a day) and management will resource and equip as required.
“The advantage we have is that being situated outside the London 2012 ‘Restricted Zone’, there will be no flight plan constraints here. The airport is also outside the London Terminal Manoeuvring Area (LTMA) which will be even busier than usual during the Olympics,” he said. Oxford’s opening hours, 06:00-22:30, seven days a week, are also longer than several other alternative London airports and the airport has the option of extending the opening hours to midnight during the peak Olympic period, if required. The airport also offers full-time, on-site Police/Special Branch support for assistance with VVIP, Head-of-State, close protection and all other security necessities.