Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

TAG Aviation has brought forward the second phase of its development programme at Farnborough Aerodrome in response to increased demand from business aircraft operators.

The £20 million ($28 million) second phase involves construction of a 11,000m² (120,000ft²) hangar, to accommodate up to six Boeing Business Jet 2s, a passenger terminal and office facilities. The Swiss business aviation service provider expects the hangar to be fully operational by July next year and the remainder of the building work finished by second quarter 2003.

Work will run alongside the ongoing first phase of the development programme, which is running 18 months behind schedule due to a protracted battle over planning approval. The initial building phase - also expected to cost around £20 million - is aimed at securing a UK Civil Aviation Authority airport licence, scheduled for late 2002. A 99-year lease from the Ministry of Defence can take effect at that point. Infrastructure improvements include a new control tower, an instrument landing system and runway resurfacing.

Movements at the airport, which TAG aims to develop into Europe's "premier" business aviation hub, have increased from 13,000 in 1999 to a projected 17,500 this year.

The rise is attributed to an increase in business aviation traffic across Europe and the worsening situation for business aircraft operators at London airports, particularly Heathrow.

Len Rayment, TAG's Farnborough manager, says: "Movements are already up by over 20% [compared with the same period last year] and we expect to reach our [imposed] ceiling of 28,000 annual movements in 2005".

TAG is keen to raise movement ceilings if it can demonstrate environmental commitment to the local region. In an effort to reduce noise at the airport, the company is installing noise and track monitoring systems and has banned Chapter 2 aircraft, including the Gulfstream II and III.

Meanwhile, TAG is set to take delivery this year of six Cessna Citation Bravos and the first Excel for its CitationShares fractional ownership scheme, a joint venture partnership with Cessna. Delivery positions have also been placed on the Citation X. The additions will increase the total Citation fleet to 17. Whiteplains, New York-based CitationShares has no plans to expand into Europe at this stage, it says.

Source: Flight International