NBAA Convention News

London airport plans expansion

 - November 7, 2006, 6:13 AM

London Biggin Hill Airport (Booth No. 4292) is making substantial investments to bolster its standing as one of the UK capital’s leading business aviation gateways. Next week the privately owned facility begins a $1 million construction project to increase its ramp space by 60 percent to provide greater room and flexibility for parking aircraft.

Construction has already begun on two hangars. The first of these is 23,000 sq ft and will be able to accommodate three Bombardier Global Expresses simultaneously. It is scheduled to be completed next June, and the airport is already in talks with prospective tenants who can make use of adjoining offices.

Biggin Hill is preparing to build a second hangar of about the same size. This is to be completed by the end of next year and also will be available for lease by based operators.

The airport has approval to build a third hangar next to its main terminal building. This will be larger, at 70,000 sq ft, and can be split into four units for different operators.

According to Biggin Hill business development manager Robert Walters, the airport has grown fast in recent years, partly because it has considerable additional capacity to absorb more business aviation traffic–unlike some other London-area airports. Biggin Hill currently receives about 15,000 movements annually, but it has approval from local government to increase this to 125,000.

“There is no other dedicated business aviation airport in London that can match this capacity to grow,” Walters said. Further land is available for operators to build their own premises. The airport, which offers operators short- or long-term leases, also has plans to build a hotel on site.

Another factor in Biggin Hill’s favor is that there is no need for operators flying in from outside the UK to seek prior approval, because the airport has immigration and customs officials on site full time. It is also part of the UK government’s SkyPets plan, which allows passengers to bring domestic animals into the country, avoiding burdensome quarantine requirements.

The airport’s main 5,730-foot runway has just been regrooved. Safety has also been enhanced with the installation of precision approach path indicators.

Biggin Hill is about 12 miles southwest of central London (about a 45-minute drive or a five-minute helicopter flight). It is particularly well located for access to the fast-growing Canary Wharf business district and a 15-minute drive from the M25 beltway.

Officially, weekday operating hours are restricted to between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. However, with prior notice it is relatively easy for the airport to extend these by an hour at either end of the day. The airport also hopes to be able to add three and a half hours to the weekend limits of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Biggin Hill is owned by the Regional Airports Ltd. group, which also includes London Southend Airport, about 35 miles east of downtown. Southland is well placed to serve business aviation traffic drawn by the ongoing Thames Gateway real estate developments.