London City gears up for reopening

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Having closed to commercial passenger traffic on 25 March in response to the coronavirus crisis, London City is preparing to reopen for passenger flights on 21 June.

Ahead of that date the airport has conducted  a survey that shows many of its customers plan to get back in the air as soon as possible.

The survey found that an overwhelming majority (79%) were either very likely or quite likely to travel when they are told it is safe to do so by the government and airports or airlines. Almost half of customers (48%) were very likely to do so.

And contradicting claims that business travel is over, 41% of London City’s flyers anticipate they will take a flight for business within the next three months.

Customers’ responses also revealed insights into what passengers expect from the new flying experience. With social distancing and personal hygiene at the front of everyone’s mind, 78% of London City’s flyers said they were more likely to avoid check-in desks, while 65% said having hand sanitiser stations in multiple locations is very important and 85% said they would be more likely to use an airport if they can get to their gate in 20 minutes or less. Additional cleaning of high-touch areas and surfaces was also deemed to be the single most important measure, with 68% of respondents calling it as very important.

Commenting on customers’ responses, Robert Sinclair, CEO London City Airport said: “This clear early demand from our passengers to get back to flying is really encouraging… We have worked hard to create a safe environment at the airport, so they can get back to flying in confidence. At the same time, we have to be careful not to sacrifice the speed through the airport which passengers have always valued and is now more important than ever, as these results show.”

Sinclair added that with the aviation market opening up across Europe this week, “It is my hope that air bridges can be agreed quickly with low risk European neighbours. This news would be a shot in the arm for the industry as well as for the wider UK economy.”

London First Transport Director, Adam Tyndall, added: “Both blanket Foreign Office advice not to travel abroad and the mandatory two-week quarantine for all arrivals into the UK should be limited to the highest risk countries. Aviation can play a vital role in the economic recovery – from exports and professional services through to universities and hospitality – but only if the government removes these indiscriminate constraints and reverts to a nuanced, risk-based approach.”

The first flights to resume at London City Airport will serve domestic routes. On 21 June British Airways plans to operate flights to the Isle of Man. New routes will also begin between central London and Teesside in the North East and Dundee in Scotland on 6 July. These will be operated by Eastern Airways and Loganair respectively.

To help boost regional connectivity, it is also expected that services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin, will also return in July.

Luxaviation acquires Paris-Le Bourget VIP terminal.

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Paris-Le Bourget VIP Terminal (FBO) has been acquired by Luxembourg-based Luxaviation Group from Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur (ACA) Group.

“With the acquisition of the prestigious Paris-Le Bourget VIP Terminal, we are able to further grow our 26 strong VIP Terminal network under our ExecuJet Brand and provide our clients with an unrivalled full-service ground handling in an unparalleled location,” said Patrick Hansen, CEO of Luxaviation Group.

Owned by ACA Group, Sky Valet France handles the VIP terminal at Paris Le- Bourget managing its own terminal with secured parking, dedicated security filter and ramp area. In 2019 it handled more than 6,000 business aircraft movements representing 12% market share.

Dominique Thillaud, President of the Board of ACA said: “After five years of continuous growth andhaving achieved a market share of 12%, we are pleased with the finalisation of this sale contract to Luxaviation Group, which will extend the efforts and good results of Sky Valet Paris- Le Bourget. The dynamism of this VIP terminal at one of Europe’s leading business airport can only contribute to the dynamism of our remaining FBO activities, in France and in Europe.”

Meanwhile CEO of Luxaviation France and Portugal Karol Gueremy, who will be supervising the team at the newly acquired terminal said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the 15 experienced colleagues of Sky Valet France in our Luxaviation team in Paris. Their recognised excellence matches the high-level service spirit of Luxaviation throughout the group and increases our service offering.”


King Aerospace outgrowing hangarage at Ardmore Municipal Airport

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A provider of aircraft services for aircraft including maintenance and avionics King Aerospace is outgrowing its four hangars’ 200,000 sq.ft of space at Ardmore Airport, part of Ardmore Municipal Airport in Oklahoma.

The company is finalising its plans to build a new hangar that will add 90,000 sq. ft.– a 45% increase. The additional footage will accommodate multiple large aircraft and facilities that will support large aircraft interior projects. Construction is expected to take up to 15 months.

Dallas-based King Aerospace has been at the airport since 1993 having been attracted initially by the two runways. The longest at 9,000 ft accommodates commercial airlines and long-range business jets. At 3,500 ft. the other serves turboprop aircraft and light-to-midsize jets.

“We appreciate the city’s ongoing improvements to infrastructure and commitment to help companies like King Aerospace grow,” said King Aerospace’s President, Jarid King. ‘Our city partners are always there for us, helping in ways large and small.”

Located between Dallas Fort Worth Airport and Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma, King Aerospace’s corporate aircraft division supports VVIP aircraft, specialising in the Boeing Business Jet. It also serves as a primary subcontractor for the company’s military/ government aircraft division.


Waltzing Matilda sees pick up in business

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Boston-based jet charter operator, Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA) has noted a pick up in business in the past week having experienced a quiet April and first half of May.

Based on levels of activity at its home base – Laurence G Hanscom Field Airport in Bedford, Massachusetts, WMA believes business is coming back faster than for some of the bigger national players who have been forced to furlough crews during the downturn. Having maintained full staffing levels in recent months WMA has used some of this downtime to invest in new systems and enhance its website.

Commenting on how WMA has been fielding up to 50 jet charter enquiries a day up from 5-10 just two weeks ago, CEO John Thomas, said: “With a massive imbalance in clients wanting to fly from Florida to the North East we are seeing unbelievably low pricing for one way southbound flights as low as $6,500. But we don’t expect this imbalance will last for more than a couple of weeks after which southbound pricing will rise to their more normal levels.”

Thomas added that with the FET (Federal Excise Tax) holiday until the end of December, as well as low fuel prices, now is one of the cheapest times to fly privately. “We have picked up a number of new corporate customers who have already made the decision not to allow their staff to fly commercially for the forseeable future and therefore see private aviation as the only viable option.”

NBAA appeals against fee increases for CBP services

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The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) alongside other aviation association has called on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner to reconsider significant fee increases for CBP services at several US airports.

Last week, many airports that support international operations with CBP inspection facilities funded by the user fee program received notice with nearly immediate effect of a significant fee increase – from 29% up to 54%. CBP’s User Fee program funds inspection services at approximately 60 airports, many of which support general aviation operations and in some cases these airports were asked to either accept the new fee or suspend future CBP service.

“We have great concern regarding CBP’s approach to this increase and we are requesting that the agency consider alternative pathways to address these issues,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s Vice President of International and Regulatory Affairs. “Affected airports are already facing significant decreases in international traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, severely impacting airport revenue.”

A letter sent by NBAA and other groups also asked Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan to “respect local process for airport oversight and fiscal management,” and to provide airports with sufficient time to understand and plan for the cost increase. “It is equally important that the users of these services have an opportunity to understand, consider and plan for any substantial increase.”


Blackbushe Airport

Blackbushe Airport reopens in phases

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Blackbushe Airport

Following the UK Department for Transport’s latest guidance regarding recreational general aviation, Blackbushe Airport will commence its phased reopening on Tuesday 19 May.

Phase One will last for at least three weeks (it is expected to end on 9 June) and will see several changes at the airport in terms of how it operates. It will open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, but will remain closed on Sundays and Mondays. It will also operated reduced opening hours: from 09.15 to 18.00.

The tower and fire service will remain operational but the cafe will not open initially and there will be limited staff working at the airport. All payments will be made by telephone or bank transfer. No physical payments (including credit/ debit cards) will be made on site. Flights must adhere to the DfT’s guidelines, that only solo flight, or flights where everyone is from the same household are permitted.

Pilots refuelling at the airport have been asked to remove fuel caps and then stand away while their aircraft is refuelled by an operator. Although hand sanitisers will be available at gates between air and landside and in the refuelling areas, pilots are advised to bring their own sanitiser too.

After three weeks on 9 June, the decision will be taken as to whether to proceed with phase two.


Harrods Aviation reopens Luton and Stansted FBOs

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Following its temporary closure on 27 March, Harrods Aviation has reopened its London Luton and Stansted FBOs and maintenance hangars. Air Harrods, the helicopter management business, has also resumed operations.

In response to the UK Government’s COVID-19 guidelines the decision to temporarily close both facilities was taken by the board to safeguard the welfare of its staff and customers, and in the wider general interests of the country.

Initially hours of operation and staff numbers will be limited for safety reasons, but as the situation becomes clearer and aircraft movement numbers increase operations are expected to get closer to normal during the summer months.

“We are confident we have in place the correct measures to ensure we can operate efficiently and safely at both bases,” said Kerry Besgrove, operations director for Harrods Aviation. With new arrival and departure procedures in place, health screening and a very strict entry policy to our facilities, we feel the time is right to safely open once again our operation.”

Paul Norton, managing director of Harrods Aviation added, “I would like to thank our incredible workforce who, to a person, have been understanding and supportive during this pandemic, both those furloughed and those who remained working from a home environment, I thank you.”

Westchester Airport to repave runway during temporary closure

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Situated just outside New York City, Westchester County Airport has now closed temporarily. Although the majority of the airport’s activity is from general and business aviation customers, around 14% of Westchester’s operations are from commercial airlines. The White Plains hub is served by United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue, Cape Air, Tradewind Aviation and American Airlines.

Westchester is believed to be the first commercial airport in the US to close entirely during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the airport is closed officials are taking the opportunity to carry out much needed maintenance, including repair work to the airport’s 6,500 ft runway. Originally the airport had planned to carry out the work to repave the runway overnight during a four month period later in the year. The extreme downturn in aviation activity at the airport as a result of the current crisis has provided an opportunity to carry out this work ahead of schedule.

A statement from the airport read: “The decision to close the runways for an extended period of time was made in an effort to reduce the construction impact on flight activity when Westchester County Airport operations return to normal. By completing construction and repaving during an airport closure, the need for the installation and removal of temporary runway pavement to continue daily operations will be eliminated.”

Signature Flight

Clear Channel Airports extends partnership with Signature Flight Support

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Clear Channel Airports (CCA), the US-based airports business of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, has renewed its contract with the global FBO network Signature Flight Support to transform the media and marketing approach for over 140 private aviation terminals throughout North America and the Caribbean.

Signature Flight Support’s new advertising programme will include new custom digital networks of LCD and LED screens across the top 20-25 private aviation terminals around the country. Many of the high-end brands that have consistently advertised across these private aviation terminals increased experiential and select exclusive foundation partner opportunities will be available.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with Signature Flight Support,” said Morten Gotterup, President, Clear Channel Airports. “Their network of FBOs presents the world’s leading brands and products with the absolutely unique ability to interact with the world’s highest net worth individuals, partners and families as well as in many cases their staff representatives,” he added.

“We will be working very closely with the Signature Flight Support team to create truly innovative and unforgettable advertising and sponsorship opportunities from new experiential activations to exclusive brand partnerships. Our partnership is poised to create some groundbreaking initiatives in the private airport advertising sector.”

Meanwhile Shawn Hall, CCO, Signature Flight Support said “We are thrilled to build upon our long-standing partnership with Clear Channel. Together, we are focused on maximising the opportunities that only our unparalleled network can deliver to the world’s leading brands.” He added: “We’re excited to bring to life new and innovative approaches to advertising in our FBOs, along with exclusive experiences and surprise and delight moments that engage and excite our customers. We look forward to collaborating with like-minded brands and partnering with them to deliver compelling, multi-year campaigns and activations.”

Signature Flight

Farnborough Airport celebrates record air traffic movements

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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.