In November TAG Aviation will complete construction of a new three-bay hangar complex at the London-area Farnborough Airport. The new structure doubles available hangar space by adding 120,000 sq ft and also takes TAG’s total investment in the UK site well beyond $150 million.
Despite relatively slow traffic growth this year (approximately 4 percent), the UK’s only dedicated business aviation airport is starting to benefit from a successful legal appeal earlier this year that cleared the way for a phased increase in permitted annual number of movements to 50,000 from 28,000 between 2011 and 2019. At the same time, weekend movements are being allowed to grow to 8,900 from 5,000 movements. This year, the movement ceiling is being increased to 31,000, with TAG (Booth No. 7626) expecting to reach 25,000.
Next year sees a bigger expansion of available capacity when the movements limit increases to 37,000. With London due to host the 2012 Olympic Games, the UK government is expecting 3,000 additional business aircraft arrivals at airports in the southeast of England during the Olympic period alone (July 14 to August 15) and TAG Farnborough Airport CEO Brandon O’Reilly believes that his facility may draw as many as 1,000 of these movements during a month that would ordinarily be fairly quiet (August). At an October 4 press conference, he claimed that Farnborough now handles more than 35 percent of business aviation traffic in the southeast of England.
Also in 2012, the limit for weekend movements will increase to 6,600 (having been capped at 5,500 this year). “Weekends will always be tight here and we expect to be very constrained next year,” said O’Reilly. In 2010, TAG had to turn away about 1,000 requested weekend movements at Farnborough.
As part of its campaign to increase the number of permitted movements, TAG voluntarily committed to achieving carbon neutral growth by 2019. From January 1, 2013, it will only allow Stage 4 noise-compliant aircraft to operate at Farnborough–making it the only airport in the UK to have this self-imposed constraint. It is taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and will purchase offsets for any surplus that would stop it from achieving carbon neutrality.
The company already works with a local consultative committee to reduce the noise footprint of the airport. It is now working with air traffic control agency NATS to establish more controlled airspace around the airport so that aircraft can climb to cruise altitude more quickly and efficiently.
The new hangar complex also includes 40,000 sq ft of new offices and storage space. The apron has also been extended by 32,000 sq ft, giving a total outdoor parking space of some 1.3 million sq ft.
In March 2012, TAG will open a new 40,000-sq-ft building for storing all ground-support equipment at a central location. The historic “Black Shed” building, which was at the heart of Farnborough’s former role as a hub of British aerospace developments, has also been renovated and brought back into use.
Looking ahead to next year’s London Olympics, TAG Farnborough Airport is already taking bookings for the slots that will be required for operators using some 40 airports around the UK capital and the southeast of England. So far, 18 operators (all based in the U.S.) have paid to reserve Farnborough slots during the Olympic period.
O’Reilly indicated that airports will be able to exercise some flexibility in terms of exchanging slots between operators in the event that their planned arrival and departure times need to change. However, it is imperative that slots are secured ahead of time because all flight plans during the Olympic period will be required to have a corresponding airport slot or the flight plan will be automatically canceled.