Stobart Group’s ambitions to become a leading provider of business aircraft and passenger handling services in Europe took major leap forward on 18 January with the inauguration of its first fixed-base operation.
The £1.5 million ($2.1 million) facility, operating under the Stobart Jet Centre banner, is at London Southend airport, which was acquired by the UK infrastructure and support services company in 2008.
Stobart Jet Centre
The FBO replaces an old passenger terminal on the site – about 65km (40 miles) to the east of the UK capital – which has been providing only rudimentary services for business aircraft users until now.
Southend currently handles about 1,000 private aircraft flights a year – about 1% of the London-area market – against figures of 31,000 for Luton, 25,000 for Farnborough and 15,000 for Biggin Hill.
Steve Grimes, managing director of Stobart Jet Centre, says providing customers with competitive pricing, convenience, speed and comfort should help increase traffic to its terminal.
Grimes hopes to double business aircraft flights in 2018, and predicts a rise in movements to 5,000 by 2022 and 10,000 within a decade.
Once the business has taken off, he says Stobart will begin exploring other locations for its FBOs. Major UK cities such as Birmingham and Manchester are a possibility, as well as popular European destinations such as Nice and Cannes.