Business aircraft traffic grew 5.3 percent last year at London-area Farnborough Airport, with 32,366 movements recorded in the 12-month period, it reported today. The privately-owned airport has achieved three consecutive years of record traffic growth and indicated that the trend is set to continue in 2020 with a further 3.5 percent growth in movements achieved so far this month.
In September, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets purchased Farnborough Airport from the TAG Group. Unveiling new branding for the business, CEO Brandon O’Reilly told reporters today that the airport’s new owners have instructed the management team to continue implementing the master plan published in 2009.
Through 2030, local government has approved further growth of up to 50,000 movements per year. Subject to further approval, this limit could, in theory, be raised in the longer term.
Starting February 27, new standard instrument departure and arrival routings will take effect as part of a new Class D airspace zone approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. The new routings will allow aircraft to climb faster into controlled airspace, resulting in less noise for surrounding residential areas.
In 2019, Farnborough achieved its goal of being fully carbon-neutral, laying claim to be the world’s first business aviation airport to achieve this level of environmental performance. It achieved this by introducing a wider array of energy-efficiency measures and also by offsetting carbon emissions by funding measures such as planting trees in the local community.
Farnborough also has championed the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for business aircraft. O’Reilly said there is growing consensus in the industry about the value of making this transition, but added that, for now, it isn’t feasible to make the fuel permanently available at many airports.
“We would like to be able to supply SAF, and everyone agrees it’s a good thing to do, but will people really pay six times the price [compared with jet-A and we need to address where we get supplies from,” he said. “The question is 'how will we create the market for this?’ and 'will government do it or will public opinion do it?'”
Last year, movements to and from the U.S. accounted for the highest growth rate at Farnborough, with a 15 percent increase. Over the same period, flights to and from other European locations increased by 6 percent. Growth in the month of December alone was 11.6 percent.
In the third quarter, Gulfstream is set to open its new maintenance facility at Farnborough. This is expected to create between 350 and 400 new jobs.