TAG considers fight to increase movements at Farnborough

 - September 12, 2006, 8:36 AM

TAG Aviation has yet to confirm whether it will appeal the Rushmoor Borough Council’s rejection of its application to increase weekend movements at the London-area Farnborough Airport. The company is entitled to appeal this ruling through the UK central government’s Department of the Environment and has previously indicated that it would be willing to use this option.

Last year, TAG applied to Rushmoor for permission to boost the number of movements permitted each year on weekends and holidays from 2,500 to 5,000 and then offered to introduce this increase incrementally over three years. But in late June the council’s planning committee ruled that the claimed economic benefits of the increase in business aviation traffic do not outweigh local residents’ concerns about aircraft noise.

TAG’s management has expressed concern that operators unable to use Farnborough on weekends might become disenchanted with the airport generally and opt for other London-area facilities at other times. According to TAG Farnborough FBO director Len Rayment, the increased flexibility for weekend movements is
vitally important to the airport’s viability as a business aviation gateway. “If we don’t get the increase, it will be more and more difficult for smaller aircraft to get access,” he told AIN in April, when the council was considering the application.

Last year TAG had to turn away about 1,500 aircraft that had wanted to use Farnborough on weekends, when a minimum landing/handling charge of £500 ($915) applies. It already feels compelled to reject smaller turboprop aircraft during these peak periods. These aircraft can easily be accommodated at nearby Blackbushe Airport and can be accepted at Farnborough on technical diversions without affecting the movements limit.

Under the terms of TAG’s agreement with Rushmoor Borough Council, Farnborough is limited to 28,000 movements per year. This year the London-area airport is projected to receive 21,000, which would represent an 8-percent increase on last year’s total of 19,500. At this rate of growth, the airport will reach its movements limit in 2010.

Meanwhile, Dassault Aviation has appointed TAG Farnborough Engineering the 25th authorized service center for its Falcon line of business jets. The UK facility can provide scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, service, troubleshooting, AOG support, basic inspections and A checks for the Falcon 50, 900 and 2000. For the Falcon 20 it can offer line service, maintenance and inspections up to C checks. Dassault also has three factory-owned service centers in its global support network.

TAG Farnborough Engineering is preparing to expand its 60,000-sq-ft, two-hangar complex with additional workshops. The new facilities will include an engine shop to focus on the Honeywell TFE731 line of turbofans.

The company has ambitions to move into the aircraft completions business over the next two years and has also held talks with Bombardier about the possibility of establishing an authorized service center for the Canadian airframer. The facility, which TAG acquired three years ago, has so far specialized in supporting Raytheon Beechcraft and Hawkers.