Construction work is to start later this year on a third hangar at Farnborough Airport, UK, as it sees a significant and sustained rise in flight activity.
Hangar 3 is a £35 million (US$47 million) 175,000 square foot development which will have four temperature-controlled bays and will be located on the south side of the airfield opposite the terminal. Local authorities gave the go-ahead to the new hangar, which is expected to be complete in 2024 last month and construction is expected to begin in June.
The Airport’s existing hangars offer 240,000 square feet of space to fit up to BBJ and Airbus aircraft size. Farnborough has around 56 based aircraft and is one of the largest bases for NetJets in Europe.
The new hangar will meet the BREEAM “very good” environmental rating standard, meaning it will be within the top 25% of non-domestic buildings for sustainability performance.
“Our hangarage is one of our key attributes. A lot of our clients want to store their aircraft inside. We are building the hangar to some of the highest environmental ratings possible in construction,” said CEO of Farnborough Airport Simon Geere at a briefing this week.
The Airport saw a significant dip in flights during the pandemic, falling from 32,366 traffic movements in 2019, a record high for Farnborough, to 19,952 during 2020. This rose back to 26,003 flights during 2021, 80% of 2019’s traffic.
The last six months have seen “the highest level of activity ever month-on-month” said Geere, who bullishly predicted a return to pre pandemic levels of flights for 2022 at the briefing. “I expect this year to be closer to 2019 levels if not exceeding 2019,” he said.
“We firmly believe business aviation airports will recover much more strongly than commercial. If the strategy is right than its very possible airports like Farnborough will then hold their position and continue to grow strongly.”
“We are 100% dedicated and tailored to the needs of business aviation from the bottom up. There is no commercial, general aviation or cargo flights here,” he added.
Geographically 90% of Farnborough’s traffic is short haul with Europe and 10% long haul from the USA and Middle East, based on 2019 numbers.
Although the demand for short haul in business aviation has accelerated strongly over the last six years, Geere still expects longer range and heavier markets to grow strongly: “Our expectation is for heavier aircraft and for the longer haul to grow faster than the shorter haul, based on 2019 data, the last normal year,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t expect the split between short and long haul to change dramatically apart from aircraft getting larger and heavier over time, which may open up more longer haul markets,” Geere said.
Meanwhile, Farnborough Airport has signed an MoU with nearby eVTOL aircraft Developer, Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace, to investigate the possibility of operating air taxi flights from the airport
Geere said, “We want to understand the opportunities for an airport like Farnborough in terms of servicing and providing this type of product to our customers, particularly around improving connections and getting people off the road.”