While commercial aviation has been devastated by the pandemic and is only now slowly recovering, business aviation and professional pilot training have bounced back helping London Oxford Airport record 30% higher traffic levels than in 2019.
“August proved to be our busiest month in 15 years, accounting for 7,180 monthly movements and July was also the highest ever for fuel uplifts,” said James Dillon-Godfray, head of business development at the airport.
So far in 2021, the airport had passed the whole of 2020’s total movements by the middle of this month (September). September looks like being another record month with an estimated 7,500 movements.
The figures were released by London Oxford Airport at a briefing yesterday. Other announcements included a new 63,000sqft hangar is under construction and a new fuel farm with self-service pumps is coming online.
The new hangar is for business aviation companies, including maintenance, and is big enough to house six large ultra long range private jets such as Gulfstream’s new G700 or the Bombardier Global 7500.
Oxford was once Europe’s busiest professional pilot training airfield and is heading back in that direction with movements up 38% in 2021 over 2020 – and a massive 246% up on 2017’s figures.
These days, it is Leading Edge Aviation that is the most active with 153 students in training. Professional pilot training school Airways Aviation has moved out completely and CAE has moved most of its training to outside the UK, though it retains one hangar.
Leading Edge was established in 2019, just before the pandemic struck, and had to stop flight operations when the first lockdown was announced in March 2020. However, it continued to operate theoretical knowledge classes using remote training. A month after lockdown started, Leading Edge introduced ‘bubbles’ where groups of students and instructors stuck together to train.
Other Oxford news:
- A new Piper M500, one of the first single-engined-turboprops on an UK AOC, available for four-passenger charter, is a new based aircraft.
- Business aviation movements were bolstered by a number of large group charters, also operated in safe ‘bubbles’ and supported by on-site Covid testing. These include 100-plus seat charters for Moto GP and Formula One teams.
- Up until September, Nice led the list of a total 270 overseas destinations, followed by Palma Mallorca, Geneva and Paris. Limitations on US traffic will lift from November and the airport is already fielding enquiries.
- Volare Aviation, an aviation services company, has expanded its Oxford-based fixed wing and executive helicopter fleet from three to 26 aircraft. This includes six ex-Babcock Espana AW109E helicopters it will retrofit inhouse and resell.
- Volare obtained a UK helicopter AOC last spring, under a new My Heli brand.
- The new hangar will allow established companies, such as Airbus Helicopters, Volare Aviation and Jet Maintenance International (JMI) to expand their maintenance, engineering, modification, design and operational support services and also support next-gen aircraft.
- From 7 October there’s a new airport café, The Aviation Station, with an amphasis on sustainable, locally sourced produce.
- Seven new ICAO/EASA/CAA-compliant helipads are under construction.
- Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is under consideration for the new fuel farm which has room for expansion.
- Next year, a new taxiway re-alignment in parallel with the runway is being explored.
- Four Pipistrel electric aircraft are planned to be based at the airport in thhe next 12 months.
- The airport is talking to specialist companies to install static and mobile charging points for electric aircraft.
- It’s also preparing for possible eVTOL aircraft recharging though that would require about two megawatts of supply.
- There’s a new 100-room Premier Inn hotel at the entrance of the airport.