20 April 2017 – Aviation International News
London Oxford Airport has reported a significant increase in larger private jets as it becomes one of the mainstream London airports for business aviation, especially for intercontinental visitors, following a number of ongoing improvements. The airport handles more than 8,000 business aviation passengers a year, equating to some 5,700 flights, with the number of business jets weighing 40 metric tons (88,180 pounds) or more having increased by 37 percent last year and 46 percent over the past two years, business development director James Dillon-Godfray told AIN yesterday. Meanwhile the number of jets with a gross weight of less than eight metric tons (17,640 pounds) was up 29 percent year-on-year, he added.
“Oxford has shifted from a bias towards midsize jets and turboprops to larger jets,” while helicopter activity has “all of a sudden in the last year” increased by 25%, he said. Much of the latter he put down to increased comings and goings at Airbus Helicopters’ UK base.
Oxford is now London’s number-six airport by business aviation movements and 16th in Europe, but is investing heavily to move up in those rankings, including improvements at its own Oxfordjet FBO. The airport is owned by property developers the Reuben Brothers, who also acquired London Battersea Heliport in 2012.
Priorities include adding GPS approaches at both ends of its runway and applying for controlled airspace, which it has to do in conjunction with the nearby Brize Norton RAF base, along with airfield lighting improvements and a new hangar development, adding another 16,000 sq ft of hangar space and 1,800 sq ft of offices.
Tenant company Capital Air Services offers helicopter shuttles to the London Heliport, which heliport general manager Simon Hutchins said has seen “healthy growth with the small to medium types,” though growth with medium to large types has been “sluggish.” Movements at the heliport increased 10 percent last year to around 11,300, he added; “our strongest year since 2008.” The heliport has also brought its ATC in-house so “we can now have true seven-day ATC service,” especially covering weekends.
Some 20% of movements are now interlining with jets from surrounding airports such as Oxford, said Hutchins. This includes a new partnership with NetJets Europe, which he said was proving particularly successful.