UK’s Oxford Airport adds to its bizjet appeal

 - June 2, 2009, 11:15 AM

Oxford Airport is continuing to develop as a business aviation gateway for central and southern England, with the completion this month of a new 21,000-sq-ft hangar and the arrival of new based operators. The new hangar eleven will be large enough for a Boeing Business Jet.

Later this year the airport operator plans to start redeveloping the south side of the site into a general aviation park that will accommodate increasing numbers of light aircraft and entry-level jets. This will feature new long, thin, bay-style hangars modeled on similar airports in the U.S., allowing operators to extract light aircraft without having to move others. There will be a total of 17 bays arranged in two rows. These should be in place next year.

The privately owned airport is also planning to further extend the main ramp. The goal is to have space for two rows of aircraft, including those up to the size of an Airbus Corporate Jetliner.

According to managing director Steve Jones, the airport has seen 33-percent growth since May last year. “We have almost reached our initial goal of 5,000 business aviation movements each year, but there has been a slowdown in the last six months. However, we have still grown by 10 percent at a time when the rest of the UK market is about 25 percent down, and the rest of Europe down by about 20 percent,” he said.

Last year the airport spent approximately $3.2 million to open a new business aviation terminal that operates under the name OxfordJet. This meets all the latest security requirements. Later this summer the airport will receive approval to allow private transportation of pets, making it the second London-area airport–after Biggin Hill–to offer this service.

The airport recently upgraded fire-and- rescue cover to Category 5, which required it to increase the number of full-time emergency staff from 11 to 23. This has allowed it to welcome executive charter and corporate shuttle operations by aircraft in the
50- to 70-seat categories, such as the ATR 72, BAE Avro RJ70, Saab 2000, Fokker 50 and Bombardier Dash 8-300.

The airport is open all week from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (extendable to 6 a.m. to midnight), giving greater flexibility than is available at other business aviation airports around the UK capital.

Oxford is set to be one of the first airports in Europe to be home to Embraer’s new Phenom 100 very light jet, with based operators Hangar 8 and FlairJet both introducing the aircraft this year. Separately, new air-taxi operator Oasis Flight has just been granted an air operator’s certificate and is about to begin flights with a pair of leased, five-passenger Cessna 303 piston twins.

Passengers arriving at Oxford can use helicopter shuttle services provided by Capital Air Services (formerly Oxford Air Services). According to its managing director, Michael Hampton, landing and parking fees are so much lower at Oxford than at some London airports that customers effectively have their helicopter ride for free in terms of overall cost.