Biggin Hill insists its extended opening hours – among the longest of any business aviation airport in London – and investment in infrastructure are helping it pull ahead in the capital's ultra-competitive market for VIP traffic.
On 1 May, after a period of consultation with the local council and community, the south-east London airport extended its hours by 21h a week, opening from 06:30 until 23:00 during the week and at 08:00 to 22:00 at weekends. This makes it more attractive for operators flying overnight from North America or from Europe whose passengers want to get to early morning meetings, says business development director Robert Walters.
Developments around the airport – where Bombardier is the largest third-party tenant with a large maintenance base employing almost 100 technicians – have included a second parking hangar, capable of housing six large-cabin business jets such as Gulfstream G650s, and containing around 1,000m2 of office space. Pilatus UK distributor and service agent Oriens Aviation has also relocated to Biggin Hill from Bournemouth.
The next big development at the airport will be a technical college specialising in aircraft engineering that will open next year and a 54-bedroom hotel, pitched at flightcrew and engineers rather than VIPs, due to finish construction in 2020.
The educational establishment, operated by London South East Colleges and backed with funding from the Mayor of London, will "train generations of home-grown technicians and engineers, who will be able to remain in the community and help us attract more [maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations]", says Walters.
He adds that the current plans are the "culmination of a vision" the owners had when they bought the former Royal Air Force base and general aviation airfield in 1994. "This is the next step towards becoming a truly 21st century business aviation airport for London."
The airport has committed to creating 2,300 additional jobs by the 2030s.
London arguably has more airports targeting the business aviation community than any other major world capital, with Biggin Hill competing with Farnborough, London City, Luton and Stansted, as well as smaller airfields and Oxford and Southend further afield.
Source: Flight Daily News