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How many corporates are avoiding the Olympics?

Although the UK has provided its official estimate that 3,000 additional business aviation movements will use its airspace in July and August because of the Olympic Games, some sectors of the general aviation community suspect that an unknown number of business aviation users will be deterred from visiting at that time by Olympic-related activity in London.

This concern was voiced at a symposium late last month at London Biggin Hill airport that was aimed at briefing users on Olympic-related aviation arrangements. Biggin's managing director, Jennifer Munro, was bullish about the airport's ability to meet the additional customer demands, from maintenance to parking needs.

At the end of April, 360 slots had already been booked into Biggin during the Olympic period. Munro and Jet Aviation, one of Biggin's fixed base operators, confirmed that 10% of booked arrivals were new customers. Munro's only concern for Olympic traffic peaks is that if arrivals bunch too closely with their chosen slots, it will be difficult to meet her objective of providing "a smiling face at the bottom of every set of steps".

Meanwhile, Biggin saw business grow by 13% last year, said Munro, commenting that "it's still tough out there" and explaining that the sector as a whole has been growing at only 3% a year or less.

Biggin has also seen 30% growth in movements by aircraft of more than 20t and, in the last 12 months, four additional charter companies have set up bases there: Air Charter Scotland, Concierge Aviation, Perfect Aviation and Starspeed.

Munro said that aircraft using Biggin served 797 different destinations last year - a record - and commented that this was a perfect illustration of how business aviation reaches the parts commercial airlines cannot. Heathrow now serves fewer than 170 destinations.

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