Farnborough Airport on Tuesday announced plans to build a third hangar—a four-bay, 175,000-sq-ft structure slated to open in 2024—at the London-area field. The airport also revealed a new partnership with UK-based Vertical Aerospace, which is working to bring a four-passenger eVTOL aircraft into commercial service in 2024.
Projected to cost £35 million ($47 million), the expansion project will almost double the available hangar space, adding to the 220,000-sq-ft, temperature-controlled buildings already in use. Farnborough Airport CEO Simon Geere said this project represents the long-term commitment of owners Macquarie Funds to the site.
Local officials granted planning permission for the new hangar in January, and the airport has now gone out to tender with construction contractors with a view to building works starting in the third quarter. Geere told AIN that there is a waiting list for hangar space, which is available to operators on year-round contracts. He said operators are willing to pay a premium for access to hangar space through the winter months at the airport.
Farnborough is also looking to add to the number of "contact stands" it offers close to its terminal building. These are mainly used by charter operators whose passengers have to go through security checks and then can walk out to their aircraft.
Meanwhile, the airport and UK-based Vertical Aerospace are exploring possibilities for eVTOL operations from Farnborough, which might include quieter and more accessible shuttle flights into central London than are currently possible with helicopters.
Last year, Farnborough handled 26,003 movements—almost 60 percent of the pre-Covid record total of 32,366 in 2019 and a significant improvement on the 19,952 figure in 2020. As many as 90 percent of flights in and out of Farnborough are now short-haul sectors within Europe, which may reflect the reduction of transatlantic traffic experienced during the pandemic.
Managed aircraft now represent around 45 percent of overall traffic, with corporate and private aircraft and fractional fleets each accounting for 20 percent, and charter operations representing the remaining 15 percent. The airport's largest customers include VistaJet, NetJets, and Flexjet.
Geere said sales of sustainable aviation fuel are gradually increasing, despite prices being around 50 percent more than jet-A. The airport, which in 2018 became the first business aviation facility to achieve carbon neutrality, is making further environmental investments in new electric ground support vehicles and the use of hydrogen-treated vegetable fuel.