Oxford Airport has started work on a brand new, first class business aviation terminal to cater for private jet crew and passengers.
Scheduled for completion in June this year, the new facility will triple the space of the existing general aviation terminal, and will sport a fresh, modern design. It is the first step toward Oxford Airport offering a fully fledged executive handling operation.
The new terminal represents the first phase of a major investment by Oxford Airport’s new owners, the Reuben Brothers, who purchased it last summer from BBA Aviation. Business at the airport has doubled over the past three years.
“Business aviation is the most buoyant sector in the market right now. We are extremely well placed to build on the activity we are currently generating. (Currently, Oxford Airport averages about 10 business jet movements a day.) We have a lower cost base, compared with the London airports which cater for business aviation, are less than an hour’s drive from the west end of London and importantly, we have slot availability to offer an extremely appealing alternative,” said Oxford Airport Managing Director Steve Jones.
Overlooking the main business aircraft apron, the airport’s new facility will give crews easy access to their aircraft, offering amenities more akin to those in a smart ‘boutique’ hotel. Separate lounges will be provided for crews with additional rest areas, along with VIP and ‘VVIP’ zones for passengers, assuring maximum anonymity and privacy. Private shower rooms, a crew kitchen, bar and meeting rooms, together with customs and immigration facilities will also be provided for within the new facility.
NASP security compliance (passenger and baggage security screening) will be available to public transport operations, whilst the enhanced scale of the terminal will allow for the occasional charter of regional airliners, which are now welcome at Oxford with its new wider and strengthened runway and the anticipated higher RFFS Category 6 (fire category). Complementing its FBO plans, Oxford Airport this month completed the construction of a new large aircraft apron. The new 3,500 square metres, high bearing strength apron is suitable for larger business aircraft up to the size and weight of the Boeing Business Jet and Airbus A318 Elite.
“With our new wider and stronger runway completed last summer, Oxford Airport is able to accommodate heavier business jets such as the Global Express and Gulfstream V (550), together with regional aircraft such as the BAe 146 family and the Bombardier Q400,” said Steve Jones. (A Q400 in Flybe colours, trialled the new runway in November last year.) The new high bearing strength apron will allow us to accommodate aircraft with maximum weights in excess of 77 tonnes.”
“Furthermore, with the recent acquisition of a third, large capacity fire tender, which will ultimately enable the airport to raise its fire and rescue cover (RFFS) to Category 6 on demand, we are able to ensure that larger aircraft have regular access to Oxford in the future,” he added.
From this month, Oxford Airport’s opening hours as a fully licensed airfield have increased from 0630hrs to 2230 hrs. Weekend access is also improved with an additional two hours’ cover each day. Earlier departures to compensate for the hour’s time difference with continental Europe and the ability to take long range overnight flights to Russia and beyond will now be better catered for.
This improvement in opening times gives Oxford Airport a notable advantage over other business airports such as Farnborough, London City, Biggin Hill and Northolt, with the potential to accept traffic from 0600hrs to midnight through progressive improvements to the opening hours over the next two years.
Oxford Airport has the capacity to handle up to 160,000 movements a year. In 2007, it accepted a total of 50,000, (36% of them flying school traffic from Oxford Air Training). “We have plenty of capability to welcome UK and overseas operators,” he added.
Just over an hour’s drive away from the west end of London, Oxford Airport represents a very convenient, unconstrained and easy access alternative to the established ‘London’ airport choices, outside of the congested London TMA (terminal movement area) airspace without any capacity or slot issues.