Slump fails to curtail Biggin Hill expansion

 - May 6, 2009, 6:37 AM

The recent slowdown in business aviation traffic growth across Europe has not deterred London’s Biggin Hill Airport (Booth No. 953) from pushing ahead with development plans. According to business development manager Robert Walters, traffic dropped by as much as 25 percent in the fourth quarter of last year but since then has been recovering somewhat.

In September, Bahrain-based charter operator Rizon Jet is due to open its new FBO at Biggin Hill. The facility is being specifically developed to cater to Middle Eastern passengers and will be fully compliant with Islamic Sharia law by providing Halal catering on-site, a prayer room and private booths in which women passengers can unveil for immigration checks.

Rizon, which is also expanding its charter and aircraft management operations into Europe, is investing around $15 million in the new 140,000-sq-ft facility. According to Rizon CEO Will Curtis, Middle Eastern business aircraft passengers expect a higher level of service than is currently available at many European FBOs.

Expansion Plans
Biggin Hill is also finalizing plans to expand its ramp space and to start building a 50,000-sq-ft hangar next to the main terminal. The new hangar will accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Gulfstream V, and permanent parking space can be rented.

The privately owned airport is also preparing to build a new hotel at the site, providing accommodation mainly for aircraft crew. The four-star establishment will offer 76 rooms, an exercise facility, conference areas and a restaurant.

Biggin Hill is located 12 miles southeast of London’s financial district and is the only business aviation airport in the immediate vicinity of the UK capital that does not have slot restrictions. The airport also offers customs and immigration services.

In addition to the new FBOs, full handling services are already available in the main airport terminal as well as from the existing Jet Aviation FBO.