Biggin Hill announces thousands of new jobs as part of sustainability strategy


London Biggin Hill Airport

London Biggin Hill Airport is to create thousands of new jobs over the next 15 years, as part of a strategy to become the capital’s “leading business aviation hub”.

The airport’s LoCATE strategy sets out its vision for a sustainable future for itself and for its local community in the London Borough of Bromley, by investing in infrastructure, skills, training and jobs.

And, as part of the strategy, Biggin Hill says it will create 2,300 jobs by 2030, starting by breaking ground on several “major projects” this year including a hotel and a London Aerospace and Technology College.

Business development director Robert Walters said: “These two projects will further strengthen our position as London’s leading business aviation hub and will inspire the next generation of aerospace professionals.”

The jobs would be a mixture of high and low skilled positions, including entry-level apprenticeships, offering a variety of ways for people to gain employment at the airport.

Walters said it was impossible to predict the pace at which the jobs would be created: “You can never predict the exact pace of growth. We could create jobs quicker [than the predicted 20 years]. You can’t put an exact date on it but you can be assured that those jobs will be there to be had within that time period.”

Biggin Hill aims to have the hotel open next year, but is currently waiting for the local council to grant permission for the project to go ahead. The college, which is a partnership between the airport, the Greater London Authority, the London Borough of Bromley, and London and South East Colleges, is awaiting funding approval; if the money is approved, Walters says it should be open in 2020.

London and South East Colleges already runs aviation courses at its Bromley campus, welcoming its first intake of 20 students in September. “We’re positive about that – it bodes very well indeed for our college,” said Walters.

“Of the 70 or so companies that are in the LoCATE partnership, for example Bombardier, they are all looking to the next generation to see where they can recruit the skill set of the future. Training people locally is one of the most powerful tools for developing a suitable workforce – that’s been demonstrated during decades past. Rolls-Royce, for example, has two or three generations of the same families working together. That’s one of the core ambitions of our LoCATE strategy.”

He added that there was a global skills gap within aviation, and tackling it locally was an important part of keeping Biggin Hill Airport relevant, competitive and profitable.

“Aviation isn’t normally at the top of people’s lists, which is a shame because it’s at the cutting edge of innovation and technology with skills that are transferable globally – you can travel the world at someone else’s expense! It’s a very exciting industry to work in. What we’re trying to do in terms of the college is making sure we’re letting people know locally and regionally that aviation is a fantastic career – look at the value it drives and the opportunities it provides.”

LoCATE – which stands for London Centre for Aviation, Technology and Enterprise – is a partnership between public and private sector organisations to promote Biggin Hill as a primary centre for the aerospace industry in London. The airport also figures in the Draft London Plan, which designates it as a Strategic Outer London Development Centre and sets out how it will contribute to the capital’s economy.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described Biggin Hill Airport as a “leading” business in the South East and “one of the most important pioneers of the business aviation sector in the UK”.

Walters said the LoCATE strategy was unique within the UK, because it was designated by the Mayor to support positive growth in London by creating jobs and other opportunities for the local community. “The way that the Mayor of London is going about this, supporting the strategy for us to fulfil that ambition, is unique. We have a unique strategy to deliver not only the commercial success of the business but also the employment, skills and infrastructure needed to create skills, needed for everyone.

“LoCATE demonstrates our ongoing commitment and to the borough of Bromley.”

You can read Biggin Hill Airport’s LoCATE strategy in full here.