Cambridge Airport Plans for Big Growth

 - May 15, 2012, 5:30 PM

While London-area airports prepare for 2012 Olympics traffic, Cambridge Airport (Stand 780)–one of five regional facilities with 24/7 slot allocation for the event–is also looking well beyond, announcing here at the EBACE show a major expansion plan based on its proximity to the UK capital, access to Cambridge’s “Silicon Fen” and its room to grow (both space wise and in terms of having no cap on aircraft movements).

“We’re looking to invest 20 million pounds [$32.15 million] over the next five years to develop infrastructure and take advantage of all this green space,” said airport director Archie Garden, pointing to the south side of the airport in an aerial photo. “We are inviting synergistic businesses and aviation companies to come and talk with us if they are looking for a new UK base.” Garden is not interested in growth for growth’s sake, however, with a focus firmly on quality–a philosophy the airport believes will prove attractive to the business aviation community.

Owned by The Marshall Group, the airport is the headquarters of Marshall Aerospace, so naturally Garden believes that aviation and aerospace tenants for the south side development could include those that can offer complementary maintenance or technical capability to the Marshall Group. High-tech and entrepreneurial companies seeking access to the intellectual resources of the Cambridge academic community should also be good prospects, said Garden.

The first stage of the infrastructure development plan calls for building an access road and bringing electricity and drainage to the airport’s south side. Ground breaking is scheduled for this July. Garden said the airport has the support of the two local councils that have jurisdiction over the property. The 6,447-foot/1,965-meter-long runway will also be rehabilitated as part of the initial development plan, and a new taxiway will be built on its south side

As part of the overall expansion strategy, ExecuJet Europe took over operations of the airport’s FBO from Marshall Business Aviation on January 1. The airport now offers commercial airline services, with regional airline Blue Islands commencing weekly flights to a few days ago with, and plans to offer twice-weekly service to Burgundy, France, starting this September.

The airport is also home to the Cambridge Flying Club, which has been operating Tiger Moth trainers at the facility for 75 years; development plans call for preserving their presence. “We believe that the general aviation community is very important for the future of aviation,” Garden said. However, the airport’s grass runway will be moved and likely shortened as the south side is developed.

A professional pilot training school, Melbourne, Florida-based Pilot Training College set up at Cambridge last year and will benefit from the investments made by “Marshalls” (as it is known in the industry) in having the latest navigation aids.

In addition to the future opportunities it is offering, airport officials say Cambridge Airport is an excellent alternative destination for today’s business jet travelers flying to and from the U.S., as the airport lies directly on the flight path to London, yet avoids the city’s busy airspace, which often sees aircraft holding in busy periods due to airport and airspace capacity constraints.