Slots imposed at London Heliport

 - November 5, 2007, 9:08 AM

PremiAir has introduced “first-come, first-served” rationed slots for access to the London Heliport after increased landing fees failed to control rising demand at the movements-restricted site. The facility–formerly known as Battersea and managed by PremiAir for its parent group, von Essen Hotels–is limited to 12,000 movements per year. Concern that the heliport would exhaust this quota before year-end forced the company to restrict the daily number of slots.

The UK capital has no other public heliport, and many in the helicopter industry would like to see its movements limit raised significantly. However, there appears to be no immediate prospect of convincing local authorities of the case for doing this in what is a heavily populated residential area.

PremiAir has not specified an exact daily limit on movements, but the annual limit of 12,000 landings and takeoffs equates to just over 30 per day. Standard operating hours for the London Heliport are 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays (extended to 11 p.m. with prior notice) and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Police and other emergency flights are exempt from the restriction.

In April 2007, PremiAir raised landing fees for the London Heliport to a flat fee of £450 ($900) on all but the biggest helicopters, for which the fee is £1,000 ($2,000). Previously the fees varied according to weight, so that a Robinson R44, for example, paid £280 ($560). But, after an initial dip in demand during May, traffic levels continued to grow by around 13 percent over the peak summer months.

Meanwhile, construction has started on a five-star hotel next to the heliport. This will include a purpose-built terminal for helicopter operations that is due to open in early 2009.

Separately, PremiAir, which is also active in helicopter charter, management and maintenance, has joined a new apprentice training initiative to develop young mechanics to support its operations. The program is being run in conjunction with fixed-wing charter firms TAG Aviation and Gama Aviation, with tuition provided by Farnborough Technical College. In addition to the London Heliport, PremiAir also has bases at Blackbushe (near Farnborough) and Denham (on the west side of London).