tag farnborough airport keeps on growing

May 27, 2019

2018 was a record-setting year for TAG Farnborough Airport. The strategy to convert the former military airfield into a pure Business Aviation airport has clearly paid off, not only for TAG Aviation, but also for the surrounding communities. Volker K. Thomalla reports

Located some 35 miles west of London, TAG Aviation acquired the former military airfield that is now TAG Farnborough Airport from the British Ministry of Defense in the late 1990s. Since then, it has invested around £200m in developing it into one of Europe’s only dedicated Business Aviation airports.

In the sales agreement, TAG assured the British Aerospace Industry Association that it would continue to host the Farnborough International Airshow on the field every two years – an agreement that’s still paying dividends. “It’s just wonderful to welcome the global aerospace industry here as a guest every two years,” says TAG Farnborough Airport General Manager Brandon O’Reilly. “It’s great marketing for us, and many air show visitors come to us by plane.”

On average, three passengers per flight use the airport. This guarantees fast handling, meaning passengers get to their final destination as quickly as possible. However, the demand for travel from larger groups such as sports teams, music groups and company delegations are growing. To meet this demand, the airport set up a new, separate lounge area in its award-winning, futuristic terminal.

The airfield is also in regular contact with the surrounding communities in order to identify and quickly resolve any possible conflicts. For example, management is currently working with various agencies to set up an airspace D to optimize arrival and departure routes for all concerned – pilots, air traffic control and local residents. Once the planned Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) and Standard Arrival Routes (STARs) are finalized, departing aircraft may be able to ascend to their desired cruising altitude more quickly, rather than having to remain at lower altitudes until given clearance to climb to cruising altitude.

A Very Good Year

2018 was a very good year for TAG Farnborough Airport. The airport saw a record-breaking 30,720 aircraft movements during the course of the year, up 13.8% from 2017 and 8.2% over the previous record from 2007. And despite the doom and gloom of Brexit, the forecast for 2019 remains positive.

“2018 was an important year full of milestones, including being selected by Gulfstream for its new, state-of-the-art, purpose-built Service Center,” says O’Reilly. “We are delighted about achieving carbon neutral status, the first Business Aviation airport to have done so.”

Even with this year’s record movements, TAG Farnborough Airport still has capacity to grow, both on the ground and in the air. In 2018, the hangars were 70% occupied, so even aircraft that spontaneously need a hangar for just one or two days will likely find space. The airport is limited to 50,000 aircraft movements per year, a number which, despite continuously increasing movements, is still some years away. In 2020, O’Reilly estimates the airport will break the 32,000 mark, while the opening of the Gulfstream Service Center at the end of 2020 could add another 3,000 movements per year.