TAG Farnborough, one of Europe’s leading business aviation airports, expects to smash its annual movement record in 2018, thanks to a resurgence in global business aviation traffic to the hub, about 35 miles (55km) southwest of London.
About 30,000 take-offs and landings are forecast for the 12 months ending 31 December. “Our highest movement tally to date was recorded in 2007, when we welcomed 27,300 business aircraft,” TAG Farnborough chief executive Brandon O’Reilly said at the show.
Last year, the airport celebrated 27,000 take-offs and landings – up 7.4% on the same period in 2016.
The positive momentum is continuing into 2018 with a 20% year-on-year growth recorded between January and April. “We recorded our busiest day on record on 25 May with 188 movements,” O’Reilly notes.
He says the 2016 UK vote to leave the EU is contributing significantly to the airport's strong performance. "Brexit has resulted in a lot of opportunity-driven travel, with many individuals and businesses flying into and out of the country looking for investment prospects," he notes. "We hope this will continue for some time."
TAG Farnborough is also benefiting, O’Reilly says, from the sporadic opening hours of RAF Northolt – the fourth-largest airport in the London area for business aviation traffic – and the increasingly congested and slot-constrained commercial airports around London – such as Heathrow and Luton – which are squeezing out business aircraft traffic in favour of the more lucrative airlines. "Many customers are now turning their backs on these very busy, large airports in favour of dedicated business aviation facilities like ours," he says.
With a movement ceiling of 50,000, O’Reilly says the airport still has plenty of room to grow. “We have infrastructure in place that can handle us operating at full capacity,” he adds.
TAG Aviation also expects Gulfstream aircraft movements to grow, once its new service centre opens at the site in 2020.
Meanwhile, the company is hoping to receive approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority before the end of May to reclassify the airspace around the facility to permit safer and more efficient departures for operators.
At present, the airport sits in unclassified, albeit highly complex, airspace, thanks to the relative proximity of both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, alongside several nearby general aviation fields and the Royal Air Force's Odiham base.
“Hopefully it will achieve all the objectives: improved environmental performance, noise reduction, more efficient use of airspace and improved safety,” says O’Reilly.