London Biggin Hill Airport (Booth No. 3593) has finally received local government approval to build a 75-room hotel after 15 years of lobbying. According to the privately owned airport, the four-star hotel is vital to its growth strategy and that of its tenants–providing convenient accommodation for visiting flight crew, technical staff and other visitors.
The hotel, which is due to open in the spring of 2011, will include special rest areas for business aircraft crew needing some downtime between flights. Its restaurant will have a panoramic view across the historic airfield (a key Royal Air Force base in the Battle of Britain) and to the center of London, 12 miles to the north.
Like many European airports, Biggin Hill experienced a steep drop in business aviation traffic in late 2008 and into early 2009, but it has recovered in recent months. The airport is determined to press ahead with long-term development plans and recently increased the number of handling staff on its payroll. It is the only business aviation airport in the immediate vicinity of the UK capital that does not have slot restrictions.
Biggin Hill is about to begin construction on another 120,500 sq ft of ramp space in front of the main terminal that will take an additional 12 jets of the size of a Gulfstream V. The airport also intends to build a 50,000-sq-ft hangar next to the terminal.
By the end of November, Qatar-based charter operator Rizon Jet is set to open its own terminal at Biggin Hill. The facility has been developed specifically to cater to Middle Eastern passengers and will be fully compliant with Islamic Sharia law by providing Halal catering on-site, a prayer room and private booths in which women passengers can unveil for immigration checks. Rizon, which is also expanding its charter and aircraft management operations into Europe, has invested around $15 million in the new 140,000-sq-ft facility.
Currently, some 60 aircraft are based at Biggin Hill, including three G550s and a VIP-configured Boeing 727. The airport has reported an increase in the proportion of larger business aircraft types and has said that it will not be increasing landing or parking fees to pay for the new facilities.
Earlier this year, Biggin Hill’s engineering department received approval to carry out line and base maintenance for Cessna Citation 525/525A jets. The facility is already an authorized service center for Dassault’s Falcon 900 and is now seeking to get approval for the Falcon 2000 in the hope of eventually being appointed as a Dassault center of excellence.