Harrods Aviation (Booth No. 4263) is here at the NBAA convention promoting its helicopter transfer service from London-area airports such as Biggin Hill, Farnborough, Luton and Stansted to the London Heliport at Battersea in the west of the city. The company believes the operation, which provides easy access to London’s West End, is virtually unknown among U.S. corporate travelers. When flying into Stansted or Luton airports, visitors can take advantage of the amenities at the Harrods FBOs.
The Air Harrods helicopter fleet, comprising a Sikorsky S-92, S-76C++ and S-76C+, as well as an Agusta A109S Grand and Agusta A109E, offers quick helicopter transit to London’s sole CAA-approved heliport. It also provides flights to the major international airports at Heathrow and Gatwick.
The helicopter operation has grown, evidenced by recruitment earlier this year of two pilots with a combined 17,000 hours of experience. The company has added rotorcraft maintenance services at Stansted as it handles a wider range of types. In fact, it has broadened its portfolio by taking on more maintenance work on the offshore fleet.
Harrods hopes to reflect the city’s recent success in managing the London 2012 Olympics by extending a “welcome back to London” message here at NBAA 2012. During the Olympics, the number of aircraft carrying heads of state was the main challenge for Harrods Aviation’s Stansted FBO. Along with its sister operation at Luton, Stansted saw considerably higher international traffic during the two weeks of the main events. Nevertheless, the company claims not to have overestimated the likely Olympics-related flight numbers, which were subject to strict coordination with allocated slots at many airfields around London.
Slots “were never a problem,” according to Harrods, and forecasts of expected movements and related demand for airport capacity were “good for planning,” as spokesman said, although the two FBOs were flooded with operators making late plans. The company believes that handling of Olympics-related aircraft was made easier by the availability of southern England airfields, of which it claims Luton and Stansted were the busiest.
In a continuing effort to improve efficiency, Harrods Aviation has invested in security equipment, fuel trucks and training at its Luton FBO. Using the fuel trucks enables faster delivery of fuel to customers, eliminating the need to wait for a third party, and also guarantees competitive prices. The VIP lounge there has been upgraded with new furniture to provide a comfortable, quiet place for customers to relax.
On the security front, UK requirements have driven the company to invest in explosives-detection equipment and staff training in its use and in baggage-search procedures. “Relying on a strong combination of in-house training and outsourced support, [we] aim to comply with regulations while keeping any inconvenience to customers, passengers orcrew to a minimum,” a spokesman said.