Bahrain's Rizon Jet has become the first Middle Eastern business aviation name to establish a facility in the UK, starting construction this month on a $15 million fixed-base operation at London's Biggin Hill with plans to be fully open by August.

Rizon will compete at the fast-growing business aviation airport with Jet Aviation, which opened its FBO in 2002, and Air Partner, which has signed an 80-year deal on land to build a "private jet enclave" capable of handling Boeing Business Jets by late 2009.

Rizon Jet will offer maintenance and "high-end" handling from the site, as well as a charter service. The company operates two Beechcraft Premier IAs and a Hawker 900XP, with a Bombardier Challenger 605 due for delivery later this year.

Will Curtis, chief executive of Rizon Jet's parent Rizon Group, says the FBO will "link our Middle East operations with Europe and enhance the service we are able to offer clients travelling to and from London", with Halal catering and local transport to and from customers' final destinations a priority.

"We see the need for a service which will meet the expectations of clients from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region who expect associated services such as helicopter links, prestige car rental and limousine services of the highest order," he adds.

Unlike TAG Aviation-run Farnborough - the UK's busiest business aviation airport - and London's main commercial airports, Biggin Hill is not slot constrained. "We believe Biggin Hill will play a key part in providing much needed runway access for business jets in the London area over the coming decade," says Curtis.

In addition, Biggin Hill's location to the south-east of the city means aircraft heading to the Middle East can climb quicker to their cruising altitude than those taking off from Farnborough, argues Curtis. The latter's position south-west of London mean business jets have to negotiate restricted airspace over the metropolis before reaching the sea, making the trip less fuel-efficient.


Source: Flight International