TAG Farnborough, owner and operator of the UK's largest dedicated business aviation airport, is striving to get the local planning process speeded up to allow its ceiling of 28,000 movements a year to be raised significantly.

The TAG Aviation subsidiary has seen business aircraft movements at Farnborough soar from 16,100 in 2003 - its first full year of operation at the site - to more than 26,500 last year.

"The airport is artificially at its full capacity of 28,000 movements," says TAG Farnborough airport chief executive Brandon O'Reilly "and we are now forced to turn people away as we can't exceed our annual quota."

Business aviation is booming, O'Reilly says and the airport has been on the receiving end of this growth. "Between May 2007 and May 2008 we saw a 60% increase in airliner-size business jets at Farnborough alone," he says.

Based on a hypothetical study by the UK's National Air Traffic Services, Farnborough could accommodate up to 100,000 movements a year, "but taking into consideration a number of key factors such as public safety, air quality and noise contours at the airport, our calculations total between 47,000 and 50,000 movements annually".

TAG last month issued a public consultation document in which it has outlined plans for the site. "This document will allow us to communicate with the local community - many of whom are misinformed about this facility. It is also an opportunity for us to get feedback, which we will then incorporate into our airport master plan, which we launch at the end of the year," says O'Reilly.

O'Reilly says the UK government Aviation White Paper requires airports that exceed a specified number of aircraft movements to prepare master plans that set out their proposals to 2015 and outline their strategies up to 2030. These documents must detail how airports will make best possible use of existing infrastructure, while minimising environmental impact.

The local government is, however, running a concurrent development plan for the area, which is not due to be adopted until 2012 - when London is set to host the Olympics. O'Reilly says the airport cannot function at 28,000 movements for another four years. "We will take a view with the council about a sensible time to apply for planning permission," he says.

If the outcome is negative, O'Reilly says he may apply directly to the UK government. "Timing is critical. We need this process speeded up as we are simply not making best use of the infrastructure at Farnborough," he says.

Source: Flight International