Jet centre at London Southend Airport wants to take on Biggin Hill in second year
After celebrating its first birthday, the executive handling facility at London Southend Airport says it is ready to handle in excess of 20 business aircraft movements per day.
Stobart Air’s executive handling facility at London Southend Airport celebrated its first anniversary this July and is viewing London Biggin Hill Airport as its “main short-term competitor” as it moves into its second year.
Hannah Lo Bao, executive handling manager, joined the airport’s business aviation terminal in May 2013, after leaving NetJets in Lisbon. While showing Corporate Jet Investor around the Southend facility in July, she said the airport was handling three or four business jets per day, but wanted to bring the total up to 20 movements in the near future. This would see the airport surpass the likes of London City Airport and Northolt, but fall just short of Biggin Hill, which averaged 25 daily movements in 2012, according to data provided by WINGX Advance.
Although further outside of London than Biggin Hill, passengers arriving at Southend can travel into the City in little more than one hour, with Lo Bao claiming: “We are in fact a lot closer than other London airports and are [more] reasonably priced than some of our competitors.”
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Stobart Group has invested over £100 million in the airport since acquiring it in 2008. Recent developments have included a new 100 metre air traffic control tower, an onsite four-star hotel, which is regularly used by business jet flight crews, and a £500,000 executive FBO, which has attracted a number of VIP clients.
Although the Southend FBO is spacious and includes conference rooms and a pilot’s rest area, it is deliberately not as luxurious as competitors like Rizon Jet’s facility at Biggin Hill, which features a self-watering ‘living wall,’ or London City Airport, which unveiled a refurbished private jet centre this summer that has reduced passenger waiting time to 90 seconds.
Alastair Welch, who stepped-down in August 2013 after almost seven years as London Southend Airport’s managing director, previously said the airport was careful not to fall into the trap of funding a million pound development that contradicts the fast and fuss-free nature of business aviation.
One major advantage of the Southend’s executive handling facility is that it is open 24 hours a day with onsite Customs and Immigration services also available.
As another incentive, Stobart Exective Handling is currently offering free landing fees for business aircraft landing between 7am-9pm until 31 October 2013.