UK club welcomes VFR helicopter operations

 - September 29, 2010, 11:23 AM

Helicopter operators wanting to fly into London now have a less costly alternative to the London Heliport at Battersea. Aircraft charter broker Jet Booking Direct is offering the use of a temporary landing site at The Ham Polo Club for VFR movements only.

Operators wanting to land at Ham will have to be pre-approved as meeting the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s rule five congestion clearance requirements and carry at least $5 million in liability insurance. Then they need to give at least 24 hours’ notice to Jet Booking Direct, which arranges the landing with the club.

A landing fee of £180 ($275) is charged for helicopters of any size and this includes one hour of parking. Additional parking is charged at £60 ($92) per hour. These rates are significantly less than those at the London Heliport, where landing fees range from around £350 ($535) to £1,500 ($2,295) and parking is charged at £300 ($460) per hour (or less for longer stays booked in advance).
The London Heliport is still the UK capital’s only fully licensed public heliport. It can handle IFR operations between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., while the Ham site is strictly limited to daylight operations.

Both facilities are on the south bank of the Thames River. The driving distance from Hyde Park Corner in central London is just under 9 miles from Ham and only 3.5 miles from Battersea. Jet Booking Direct envisions that some operators might opt to drop passengers at the London Heliport and then use Ham for less expensive parking.

London Heliport owners the Von Essen hotel group recently updated the facility, which now features a new terminal and adjoining five-star hotel. The facility is operated by Von Essen group company PremiAir.