TAG Farnborough, the UK’s leading business aviation airport, expects to smash its annual movement record in 2018, thanks to a resurgence in global business aviation traffic to the hub, about 35 miles (56km) southwest of London.
Over 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. “And we are already up 15% year on year for the first nine months of 2018,” O’Reilly says.
He believes 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 don’t know if this will continue once the UK has left the European Union. We will have to wait and see.”
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, Gatwick and Luton – which are squeezing out business aircraft traffic in favour of the more lucrative airlines.
"It is a challenge to get peak-time slots at these airports so we are taking a lot of this traffic,” O’Reilly says. “Other customers are increasingly favouring business aviation facilities like ours due to their very high levels of service and ease of access and exit," he says.
With a movement ceiling of 50,000, O’Reilly says the airport still has plenty of room to grow. “We are just over half full now, but we have the infrastructure in place to allow us to operate at full capacity,” he adds.
TAG Farnborough also expects Gulfstream aircraft to add another 3,000 movements once the airframer’s new service centre opens at the airport in 2020.
TAG is now clearing the site at the eastern end of the airport, and Gulfstream plans to break ground on the new facility in April 2019.