TAG Farnborough has published a masterplan for the airport for the next decade. The company is gearing up to apply for a 22,000 annual movement increase at Farnborough to keep pace with the expected burgeoning demand for the UK's only dedicated business aviation airport between 2009 and 2019.

At the airport's current level of operation - with a 28,000 movement ceiling - the infrastructure is significantly under-used, says Brandon O'Reilly, chief executive of Swiss-owned TAG Farnborough. "While the physical capacity of the airport could accommodate up to approximately 100,000 air traffic movements, we will apply for a 50,000 ceiling up to 2019 in light of current safety and environmental constraints," he adds. "The current runway, taxiways, aprons, passenger terminal, hangars and car parking facilities are entirely sufficient to meet this level of future growth."

The masterplan will consider how the airport can meet future forecast demand for business aviation flights while minimising the effect on the local community and environment. Its publication follows two periods of consultation within the past year with local businesses and members of the public, some of whom have been outspoken opponents of the airport and resistant to any expansion at the site.

O'Reilly says that views expressed during the consultation have been incorporated into the document and have "helped to develop a set of commitments in respect of the airport's future. We have listened to all the concerns of the residents and have attempted to address them as best we can in this document," says O'Reilly.

TAG Aviation Farnborough
 © TAG Aviation

"The consultation highlighted people's concerns about the environment, in particular noise, which we have addressed." Others are apprehensive that the airport's long-term strategy is to become a regional base for low-cost carriers or a cargo hub. "This is categorically not the case. TAG Farnborough will remain a business aviation airport," says O'Reilly.

"We want to make better use of existing infrastructure and see what balances need to be struck with the community to grow the number of flights at the airport [to 50,000 air traffic movements by 2019] in a responsible way,"

The TAG Aviation subsidiary has seen business aircraft movements at Farnborough soar from 16,100 in 2003 - its first full year of operation at the site - to more than 25,500 last year. Although the operator is expecting an overall decline in movements this year due to the economic slowdown, air traffic movements at the airport are expected to rise significantly over the coming decade as the global economy recovers.

"Commercial airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted are going squeeze out business aircraft as demand from airlines rises, increasing traffic for placing more demand on business airports in the region like Farnborough," says O'Reilly.

TAG has invested around £100 million ($148 million) upgrading the airport since it became leaseholder of the site - home to the biennial Farnborough air show - in 2001. Eight years later and now owner of the freehold, TAG has almost completed the extensive modernisation programme.

"We have built a new air traffic control tower, terminal building, hotel and hangars, reprofiled and resurfaced the runway and installed an instrument landing system. We just need to complete the apron work at the western end of the airfield - scheduled for completion by 2010 - which will house new hangars," says O'Reilly.

TAG's promise to Farnborough residents

  • No change to operating hours.
  • No change to the proportion of weekend flights now permitted.
  • No change to the proportion of larger business jet flights allowed at present.
  • No additional runway or terminals.
  • No change to the permitted use of the airport as a business aviation facility and host of the Farnborough air show.
  • A commitment to tackle noise and take an industry-leading approach to phase out all but the most modern and quietest categories of aircraft.
  • A commitment to become a low carbon airport and achieve carbon neutrality as soon as reasonably possible.


Source: Flight International