The UK’s only dedicated Business Aviation Airport, Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, has smashed its record for air traffic movements for a third consecutive year.
For the year 2019, Farnborough saw a year-on-year increase in air traffic of 5.3% with 32,366 movements. Air traffic movements to and from the US in particular experienced significant growth with an increase of 15% year-on-year. The rise in traffic is in part attributed to business aviation being squeezed out of major commercial airports and initial forecasts indicate the airport’s positive trend in air traffic movements is set to continue throughout 2020.
“Those movements mean a lot to the community here and employees. They feed jobs and show an attraction for business aviation here in Farnborough,” said Brandon O’Reilly, CEO Farnborough Airport.
The airport was acquired last year by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and following a rebranding exercise it now has a new identity. A statement from the airport revealed that the new brand embodies the airport’s philosophy to consistently offer a five-star service and reflects the award-winning architecture of the airport’s facilities with its iconic shapes and curves.
Talking at a gathering to mark the unveiling of the new branding, O’Reilly referenced that “with Davos taking place this week there’s a lot of discussion going on around sustainability.” Highlighting that Farnborough became business aviation’s first carbon neutral airport anywhere in the world in 2018, O’Reilly added that the airport continues to work on mitigating its effect on the environment. He also stated that while there is much that the airport has control over in terms of its carbon emissions they don’t have control over the emissions released by the aircraft themselves. “Aircraft need fuel to fly, but what if we at Farnborough could be at the vanguard of education and the implementation of the use of sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAF)?” O’Reilly asked. The airport supplied SAF for aircraft travelling to the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in 2019. It also sponsored a SAF educational session at the National Business Aviation Association’s Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas last year. In addition, Farnborough was also named a winner at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) Sustainability Awards 2019. “As a fuel supplier its incumbent upon us to lead the charge as far as squaring this SAF circle, which is essentially about supply, demand and understanding. There’s a long way to go but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making the effort to educate the market and indeed ourselves about the use of SAF.”
Another way the airport is seeking to reduce its impact on the environment is to have aircraft flight paths that don’t fly over built up areas as much as they do currently. It’s all part of the airport’s Master Plan which will run until 2030.
The next 12 months are certainly set to be busy for the airport. It is once again hosting the bi-annual Farnborough Air Show in July and Gulfstream is set to open its new Maintenance Repair and Operation (MRO) facility at the airport later this year. “It’s an enormous, impressive facility and the exterior is now done. It’s now just a matter of the fit out, but it’s on schedule to open this summer,” revealed O’Reilly. In addition to catering for Gulfstream customers, the new facility will create some 350-400 jobs.