Farnborough Air Show

New bizav terminal breathes life into Oxford

 - July 7, 2008, 5:38 AM

Tomorrow evening, the UK’s Oxford Airport (Hall 4 Stand G22) will open its $5 million business aviation terminal as its new owners push ahead with ambitious expansion plans. It already has attracted its first tenants: aircraft operator and maintenance provider PremiAir and air taxi operator VLJ Consultancy.

The terminal will carry the brand name “Oxfordjet.” The Reuben Brothers private equity group and property developer Dawnay Day purchased Oxford Airport in July 2007 for approximately $100 million from former owner BBA Aviation, which invested heavily in resurfacing and widening the runway, and installing an instrument landing system.

James Dillon-Godfray, Oxford Airport’s head of marketing and development, said movements at the airport are at an historic low, with only 50,000 in 2007 compared with 235,000 at its peak in the 1960s and some 160,000 ten years ago. A reduction in pilot training at the airport is the main cause of this decline.

As a result of the increase in capacity, business aviation is expanding at Oxford. The new terminal will accommodate the NASP security screening requirements and other capabilities which will allow charter flights and even scheduled services. The airport has also increased its hours of operation to between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. seven days a week.

“We are increasingly being used as an alternative to London airports such as Luton, Farnborough and Biggin Hill, and in the first quarter, business aviation movements more than doubled compared with 2007 [from around 400 to more than 900],” said Dillon-Godfray.

The airport is adding Category 4 fire-and-rescue capability this month and stepping it up in September to Cat 5/6, with 23 full-time firefighters and three foam tenders. This modernization, as well as an extension to the apron, will allow the airport to accept aircraft in the Boeing 737 class.

For the future, the airport’s management has developed a master plan to develop new hangar space and demolish old buildings, which could result in doubling the airport footprint by adding another 200,000 sq ft. The new owners are about to purchase 120 acres of land to use for adding second road link. A proposed new railway station in nearby Kidlington on the Birmingham line from London Paddington could also aid access.