Biggin Hill Plans to Offer New Services

 - November 2, 2006, 5:39 AM

London Biggin Hill Airport is seeking local government approval for a revised draft master plan that would allow for both business aviation growth and the reintroduction of scheduled regional airline services. The London Borough of Bromley rejected a similar plan in 1999, but the revised proposals envision more modest traffic growth and are in line with the UK government’s December 2003 transport white paper, which called for greater use of regional airports in southeast England.

The airport, run by private company Regional Airports under a long-term lease from the borough council, believes there would be demand for around 13 scheduled arrivals and 13 departures each weekday. The company has estimated that this would result in an annual passenger throughput of up to 500,000, while the total number of aircraft movements would not exceed the current yearly limit of 125,000. The master plan proposed in 1999 had envisioned as many as 1.3 million passengers per year.

In 2001 some regional airline services operated out of Biggin Hill, but these stopped at the insistence of the borough council, which imposed a ban on scheduled operations.

The new plan calls for the redevelopment or rebuilding of the existing passenger terminal. It also envisions construction of at least three new hangars, offices and a hotel to support Biggin Hill’s existing business aviation operations. The airport operator also wants to extend weekend operating hours.

Last year Biggin Hill received 9,000 aircraft movements. That number is expected to reach around 10,000 this year, largely through an increase in business aircraft traffic. However, to compete with other London-area airports, Regional Airports has argued that it will need to offer greater flexibility in operating hours for a small number of flights that need to arrive or depart earlier in the morning or later in the evening.

Business aircraft handling is available through the airport’s main terminal or Jet Aviation’s FBO on the south side. Several executive charter operators, including Gold Air International, are based at Biggin Hill.

The airport’s main runway is 5,900 feet long and the operator has no plans to extend it. Regional Airports has said that all the proposed developments at Biggin Hill would be within the existing airport boundaries.

The public comment period on the new master plan closed at the end of March. The airport intends to submit a final plan for approval by the Bromley borough council at the end of this year. Although the airport already has outline planning permission to build the additional hangars, offices and a hotel, it needs final clearance from the borough to begin this construction.