Oxford and Cambridge vie for business aviation

London
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For centuries, Oxford and Cambridge universities have competed academically and in sport. Now the two cities' newly revamped airports are locked in friendly rivalry for high-value business aviation.

One year after its controversial rebranding to London Oxford Airport, business jet traffic is up 44% year-on-year to around 20 movements a day against a European average of around 5%, says James Dillon-Godfray, head of marketing and development. With a quarter of the business "London-centric" and a Google search for London airports bringing Oxford near the top, the name change has "definitely worked", he says.

The airport - owned by property developers the Reuben brothers and home to seven charter operators as well as Eurocopter UK and one of the country's largest flight schools - is building a new 120 x 40m (400 x 130ft) "speculative" hangar to house further clients.

Marshall Airport Cambridge, part of Marshall Aerospace, does not use the London name but claims to have a faster connection to the capital by train than its rival. A year and a half after opening its two-storey business aviation centre - which includes crew bedrooms - the company says 250 business aviation movements a month help put it ahead of Oxford in terms of overall traffic. It markets inself as the "gateway to the east of England", and nearby attractions popular with visiting VIPs include Newmarket racecourse.

An approved Cessna maintenance centre, the airport says the number of aircraft going through its hangars rose by a quarter in the first six months.