2 May 2012 – Corporate Jet Investor
London Oxford Airport and the London Heliport, now under single ownership, are exhibiting together at EBACE in Geneva to highlight the synergies and ease of travel to interlining jet operators, especially during the London Olympics this summer.
They will also be incentivised with discounts for the interlining jets, says business development director James Dillon-Godfray, noting helicopters can operate from Oxford to the Heliport in just over 20 minutes.
The London Heliport will benefit from an exemption to the no-fly zone during the Games, meaning that a large number of dignitaries and other VIPs will be able to use the Heliport as an easy access route. The vast majority of international VIPs coming into London will first travel to the West End of London for their hotels, embassies or residencies, well before venturing on to the East side for the Games themselves.
As such, both the Heliport and indeed London Oxford Airport are on the right side of London as the first port of call. London Oxford Airport will accordingly be working closely with resident helicopter operators, Capital Air Services with EC-135, EC-155 and S76 executive helicopters, and PremiAir who plan to base either a Twin Squirrel or Sikorsky S76 at Oxford.
For VIP ground transportation to London, or to the Olympic venues away from London, the airport has an arrangement with BMW-Rolls Royce to transport VVIPs by car from Oxford to London or other designated Olympic venues. For example, the rowing events will be at Windsor, just 45 minutes’ drive away.
“Arriving business jet passengers are more likely to want to go straight to their West End hotels first, not the Olympic venues,” says Dillon-Godfray. And herein lies a challenge. Fast track VIP ground transportation via special lanes is going to be restricted to those invited by sponsors and the Olympic families.
“It does not matter how wealthy or famous they might be, all clients (bar ‘Olympic Family’ members) are going to have to get on public transport at some stage, but at least with a direct connection to the London Heliport or comfortable chauffeur car we can make their arrival into London as smooth as possible,” concedes James Dillon Godfray. Ground transportation partner, First Class Cars has highlighted that further clarification on chauffeur drop-off zones for the Olympic Park zone will be confirmed imminently.
“Oxford Airport is anticipating a three-fold increase in business aviation traffic during the peak period of the Games – up to 30 business jet rotations a day – and it is preparing to resource its operations and customer service personnel as required. The airport will have space to park up to 40 aircraft (assuming a typical mix of jet sizes),” Dillon-Godfray says. “The likes of London Luton, Biggin Hill and Farnborough are likely to fill up first and then we can expect a lot of phone calls asking if we have space, or indeed slots,” he suggests.
As London Oxford is one of the airports outside of the restricted zones it means that it will not require the new notice periods for flight plans. Restrictions applying from 14 July to 15 August state that aircraft will not be allowed within the ‘prohibited zone’ – which stretches from White Waltham to beyond London City Airport.
However, as London Oxford is one of the airports outside of the restricted zones it means jets will not be burdened with the new notification constraints and filing protocols the likes of Luton, Biggin Hill and Farnborough will be subject to. The airport also benefits from being outside the London TMA, making access from the northern aviation corridors easier.