EBACE Convention News

Biggin Hill refurbishes facilities in preparation for traffic increase

 - May 9, 2007, 12:12 PM

London Biggin Hill Airport (Booth No. 1333) opened its new apron last month, significantly increasing available aircraft parking space to almost 270,000 sq ft. According to Robert Walters, the privately owned airport’s business development manager, the expansion will allow aircraft to be parked more safely and also increases capacity by some 60 percent.

The $1.5 million project was started in January and represents the first step in a more extensive redevelopment of Biggin Hill, which will include the addition of
a 65,000-sq-ft combined terminal and hangar. The hangar will be divided into four bays to accommodate up to four Boeing Business Jets and will offer just over 16,000 sq ft of office space. Meanwhile, the existing terminal building is to undergo interior refurbishment.

Business aviation traffic at Biggin Hill is continuing to grow at rates as high as 25 to 30 percent annually (with February 2007 seeing a 45-percent leap compared to the same month a year ago). Walters told EBACE Convention News that these growth rates are sustainable because Biggin Hill, unlike several other London-area airports, is not constrained by tight restrictions on total movements or the imposition of slots. The airport, situated about 12 miles southeast of central London, is limited to 125,000 annual movements and currently is at the 70,000 mark. Rising demand for diminishing slot availability at other airports is forcing up landing fees and handling prices at these locations and making Biggin Hill seem a better-value option for some operators.

Another advantage claimed by Biggin Hill is that it still offers plenty of land for further development, giving prospective based operators options for building their own hangars and other facilities. “With no capacity problems, it makes Biggin Hill an ideal place to base aircraft,” said Walters.

Jet Aviation’s operation at the London airport is a prime example of Biggin Hill’s growth in recent years. The Swiss-based group operates an FBO there and has been attracting customers who had never used Biggin Hill.

The airport has also substantially upgraded its Web site to include interactive features, such as booking handling services online.

The main 5,900-foot runway at Biggin Hill can receive aircraft up to the size of a Boeing Business Jet. The airport’s operating hours are 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week (with some restrictions during the first and last hours), and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Biggin Hill’s parent company, Regional Airports Ltd., also owns Southend Airport which is located about 40 miles east of central London.

This facility is open around the clock and offers substantial capacity for business aircraft operations. It is well placed to provide access to the Thames Gateway business and residential development projects running eastward out of the UK capital. Plans are being finalized to build a new hotel and more hangars, and the company already has approval for a terminal and a railway station with direct links to the City of London financial district.