Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), which also owns U.S.-based FBO group Atlantic Aviation, has purchased privately owned and operated dedicated business aviation hub TAG Farnborough Airport in the UK. It's hard to overstate the importance of Farnborough. The London-area airport, which saw a record 30,729 aircraft movements last year, is home to 260,000 sq ft of climate-controlled hangar space, more than one million sq ft of ramp, a three-story 52,000-sq-ft terminal which has held the top score for non-North American FBOs on AIN's annual FBO survey for more than a decade, and a hotel. Movements are expected to surpass 32,000 in 2019, which could push the annual passenger figures past 100,000 for the first time. With a maximum of 50,000 movements a year negotiated with the local governments, the airport's traffic still has considerable room to grown.
TAG won the right to operate the former military airfield, the birthplace of flight in the UK and site of the biennial Farnborough International Airshow, in 1997 and was granted a 99-year lease. In 2007, the company bought the leasehold entirely and has invested more than $150 million in the property.
“The significant investment that has occurred at Farnborough Airport over the past two decades under the previous shareholders has been transformative,” said Brandon O’Reilly, who has served as CEO of TAG Farnborough Airport since 2006. “With a number of development projects already underway, we are excited to partner with Macquarie to further develop our offering to the business aviation market.”
Last year Farnborough Airport became the first business aviation airport in the world to achieve carbon-neutral status after an assessment by Airports Council International—Europe. Since then, according to the airport, it “has continued to make further substantial reductions in [our] carbon footprint, with a confirmed offset totaling 1,605 [metric tons] of carbon emissions for the last year.”
Over the past five years, TAG Farnborough Airport said it has invested more than £1 million ($1.25 million) into energy-efficiency projects, such as a complete upgrade to LED lighting, and in 2018 it committed to 100 percent renewable energy supply through the UK energy regulator’s Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin scheme.
In May, on the eve of EBACE, the airport hosted "Fueling the Future" which marked the first time sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) was made available to business aviation in Europe. That same month, Gulfstream Aerospace kicked off construction on its new 225,000-sq-ft MRO facility at the airport. When completed in 2020, it will be the airframer's largest maintenance facility outside of its Savannah, Ga. headquarters.
“We are delighted to announce our investment in Farnborough Airport,” added Leigh Harrison, head of MIRA for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. "In addition to holding an important place in UK aviation history, the airport is known for its high-quality offering to customers.” Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Earlier this year, TAG sold off its European MRO organization, including its facility at Farnborough, to Dassault Aviation.