4 July 2013 – BlueSky Business Aviation News
London Oxford Airport saw one of its busiest weekends so far this year as glorious sunshine ushered in the F1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The airport welcomed well over 300 movements, including 50 business jet flights on the Sunday, its highest peak so far this year. During the weekend it sold nearly 100,000 litres of fuel.
The majority of movements this year were larger cabin sized jets too – Challengers, Gulfstreams and Global Express aircraft and some 20 chartered helicopters were busy making the eight minute dash back and forth to the track. Sister airport, The London Heliport was also busy with F1 movements, especially on the Sunday when it accepted 50 rotations, as well as several extra movements for the Glastonbury Festival.
Every year, as it makes way for the important Grand Prix weekend, London Oxford Airport clears its main apron of all its usual resident aircraft, including the Oxford Aviation Academy pilot training fleet, to make way for up to 40 jets and numerous ‘rotors-running’ helicopter shuttles, in a carefully coordinated ballet of air traffic.
The airport is situated at the very heart of what is a huge high tech industry for the UK as the nearest airport to the Silverstone race track. Teams, drivers, sponsors and those in the corporate hospitality industry use the airport as their primary hub and there was a party atmosphere in the frantic Oxfordjet executive VIP terminal even though Great Britain was robbed of a podium win following Lewis Hamilton’s dramatic tyre-burst.
“Throughout the Grand Prix season, our airport remains a key hub for those local teams to get teams and the drivers around the world in what in one of the most travel-intense and time-critical industries there is,” said London Oxford Airport Business Development Director James Dillon Godfray. “Our airport remains the core hub for the motorsport industry which has always relied upon private, business aviation to achieve the near-impossible travel demands it generates.”
Oxford at the heart of motorsports
It is not just the F1 industry that lies on Oxford’s doorstep, but many of the other motorsports and automotive industry players too. Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover are at Gaydon, just up the M40 motorway; BMW Mini is in Oxford itself and key high-tech players like Prodrive are located at Banbury. Oxford Brookes University also has its unique auto sport academy.
Key F1 teams reside within the airport’s catchment area as do the vast majority of all the industry’s suppliers, component manufacturers and support companies. Eight of the 11 F1 teams are on the doorstep, but so too are almost 3,500 companies associated with motorsport, employing around 40,000 people. That represents around 80% of the world’s high performance engineers.
The UK Government recognises this fact and continues to supply funding and incentives to encourage businesses to push the boundaries of innovation in an area similar to Silicon Valley in terms of development. This ‘Motorsport Valley’ continues to grow with an estimated turnover of £6bn, of which £3.6bn is exported. Teams spend up to 30% of their turnover on R&D compared with the norms of 4% in engineering, 6% in automotive and 15% in pharmaceuticals.
The track-record of these UK teams is significant – 17 of the 20 races in F1 last year were won by British built cars and British-based constructors have won 38 constructors championships since F1 began in 1950, well ahead of Italy (16) and France (1). The bigger F1 teams employ typically 600-700 people, while the smaller teams might have just 150.
The Local F1 Teams:
Red Bull – Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
McLaren – Woking, Surrey
Mercedes – Brackley, Northamptonshire
Lotus – Enstone, Oxfordshire
Williams – Grove, Oxfordshire
Force India – Silverstone, Northamptonshire
Marussia – Banbury, Oxfordshire
Caterham – Leafield, Oxfordshire