Farnborough Airport may be packed with an odd assortment of aircraft for this week’s show, but ordinarily it is strictly business. Under the ownership of TAG Aviation (Chalet K15-16), the former Ministry of Defence site has been transformed into one of the London area’s leading business aviation gateways. And now, with a recent planning decision having gone in its favor, the company has begun a consultation process to prepare the case for a further increase in permitted annual movements.
In March, TAG won its appeal against an earlier local government decision prohibiting an increase from 2,500 to 5,000 movements on weekends and public holidays. The grounds for granting TAG’s appeal draw strongly on recent central government aviation policy that favors increased business aviation traffic at airports like Farnborough.
TAG believes the ruling could strengthen its case for having the overall annual limit of 28,000 movements increased. It intends to publish a new long-term master plan by the end of this year, outlining how the company intends to deal with issues such as aircraft noise, pollution and road access to the site. Technically, Farnborough could handle at least 100,000 movements each year, but TAG does not expect to get approval for so many.
The success of TAG’s appeal appears to have benefited from the British government’s desire to move capacity away from the main London airports. The March ruling cited the Future of Air Transport White Paper of December 2003, which emphasized “the need to make the best use of existing capacity of the UK’s airports before supporting the provision of additional capacity.” The ruling also highlighted “the important role of the smaller airports in the South East [of England] in helping to relieve pressure on the main airports before a new runway in the South East is built.”
TAG is now seeking approval to build three more sets of hangars to provide an additional 120,000 sq ft of covered aircraft parking space and offices for based operators. Some 50 aircraft are based at Farnborough and they often fill the existing 270,000 sq ft of hangars to capacity. By the time the new hangars are added, TAG’s investment in Farnborough will total approximately $360 million.