London Oxford Airport leads business aviation bounce back with 30 per cent uplift

London Oxford Airport

London Oxford Airport has exceeded pre-pandemic traffic levels and is currently experiencing 30 per cent more movements than in 2019, both overall and in business aviation.

According to a report in the aircraft magazine Aviation Pros, the Airport surpassed Year 2020’s total movements by mid-September 2021 and is set to pass 7,500 movements in September. It was already back to pre-Covid levels immediately after the lockdown ended, with its comeback led principally by the big players and private owners. A new Piper M500, one of the first single-engined turboprops on an UK AOC, available for four-passenger charter, moved in as a new based aircraft this month.

August proved to be its busiest month in 15 years, accounting for 7,180 monthly movements. July was also its highest ever for fuel uplifts.

Head of Business Development James Dillon-Godfray, said: “Remarkably, our recovery, in percentage terms, climbed ahead of our London centric peer airports and we’ve been able to retain our position as the fifth busiest UK business aviation airport.”

Emphasising the widely held belief business aviation would bounce back quicker, London Oxford Airport was even propelled into the No. 59 place among Europe-wide airports this summer, handling more movements than many city airports, including Copenhagen, Lisbon and Stockholm. “In March, with UK airlines still crippled by restrictions, we found ourselves with the most unusual status – as the second busiest airport in the UK,” he added.

Movements were further bolstered by a number of large group charters, operated in safe “bubbles,” all supported by pre-arranged on-site COVID testing. Hundred-plus seat Embraer 190s (Moto GP Italy) and F1 Grand Prix (Europe-wide) continued to be regular visitors through the OxfordJet FBO.

Up until September, Nice led the list of a total 270 overseas destinations YTD, followed by Palma Mallorca, Geneva and Paris. Limitations on U.S. traffic will lift from November and the airport is already fielding enquiries.

Professional pilot training is also up 37 per cent on pre-pandemic, 2019 levels. While Airways Aviation moved out of the UK to focus its flight training out of France and Australia, Leading Edge Aviation, new to Oxford in early 2019, has grown its student intake to a 170-plus headcount. It was one of the first schools to re-open during the pandemic with students working in bubbles with their instructors.

London Oxford Airport is wholly owned by the Reuben Brothers. Their investment activities span private equity, as well as real estate ownership and development. The brothers also own the London Heliport at London Battersea, the UK’s only CAA licensed heliport and just a 22-minute helicopter ride away from London Oxford Airport.

In August, the airport reported that it’s major development programme, which began in May is making good progress.

The programme, which includes a major new hangar complex,  seven new helipads, new fuel farm ready for non-fossil fuel and a planned new fire station, is on course for completion in October.

Central to the work is a 63,000 sq. ft. (6,000m²) 140m long hangar with two bays including rear offices, stores and workshops, capable of accommodating up to six Bombardier Global, Gulfstream or Dassault Falcon Jet models, simultaneously. The new hangar, the airport’s 15th, is the first facility in a new zone of the airport to the north of the original site.

The hangar will be used predominantly by established tenants, many of whom reside in some of the older WWII facilities, along with a number of larger business aircraft for which there has been limited capacity at Oxford. The airport will progressively replace 80-year-old hangars with new, bespoke facilities, providing turnkey solutions for clients.

A large area of new aircraft parking apron has been created but also seven new ICAO/EASA/CAA-compliant helipads supporting Airbus Helicopters and the growing number of commercial AOC helicopter businesses at the airport like MyHeli. These complement operations with the co-owned Edmiston London Heliport, London’s only CAA-licensed heliport, which supports up to 12,000 movements year and the capital’s essential police and air ambulance flights.

The new fuel farm will enable a quadrupling of the capacity of the original facility, whilst also providing valuable space for additional future static tankage for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The industry is progressively introducing SAF with up to 80 per cent reduction in lifecycle CO2 emissions.