Passengers and crew are in for a treat at TAG Farnborough Airport as it opens its £1m (US$1.5m) refurbished terminal, offering upgraded facilities including a first floor private lounge area, comfortable crew rest facilities, shower rooms and conference facilities, as well as the airport’s very first gymnasium dedicated to crew.
Speaking at an exclusive meeting on December 3 prior to the facility’s opening on December 7, TAG Farnborough CEO Brandon O’Reilly, said, “The idea of this new facility is to make sure we keep ahead of what our clients want. We have moved our office space to a dedicated headquarters at Meadow Gate, which has allowed us to create this new passenger lounge and additional crew facilities that our customers have been asking for.
“The lounge has a capacity for up to 60 passengers and will allow us to accommodate the increase in larger sized business jets that we’ve been seeing; this traffic has been increasing by 5-8% for the past few years so this is a growing market for us. We can also host events for customers who are not flying from the airport, so the new facility is multifunctional.”
O’Reilly stressed the importance of not only providing for the people sitting in the back of the aircraft, but also the crew who service those clients. “These crew members are not operating to a schedule so when they arrive they may have a long waiting period and it is very important to make sure that the crew have got the facilities to work, rest or play,” he added.
The facility now includes a new snooze room for crew with two flat beds as well as a zero gravity chair that allows users to raise their feet above their heart – an important health issue when flying for long periods of time.
“The adjacent crew rest room is very quiet and relaxing, and can accommodate about 20 people at any one time although it is never full as they come and go throughout the day,” explained Sophie
Lesnoff, head of customer services and terminal operations who designed the refurbishment. “We also have new shower facilities – two showers and toilet facilities for both men and women – and we will also develop an entertainment room for crew with chess, table tennis, etc that will open next year.”
A major demand from crew was for a gym facility at the airport to allow them to exercise between flights, and this has opened in a separate building adjacent to the main terminal. “The gym is purely reserved for crews and is available free of charge 8:00am-8:00pm every day,” Lesnoff said. “It is unmanned with changing and shower facilities as well as state-of-the-art exercise equipment that can also be used to check email, browse the web, listen to music, watch TV, etc. Crew can also download an app to track fitness levels and watch videos on how to use the machines.”
The refurbished terminal was designed completely in-house by Lesnoff and features soft furnishings from design company Progress. The color scheme is neutral with grays, browns and creams, and the furniture uses warm fabrics such as velvet to create a more homely feel. “I wanted to have a contrast from downstairs so we can offer two different products depending on what the client wants. Upstairs is much more homely with muted colors and a more relaxing atmosphere,” commented Lesnoff.
The entrance to the new first floor lounge is via a sweeping statement staircase and other unique elements of the lounge include specially commissioned pieces from Fallen Furniture, which refurbishes aircraft parts and makes them into bespoke artwork and furniture. “We have a clock made from an A320 window section; a freestanding lamp which is an exhaust from BAE146; and a table using the wheel of a Boeing 747,” said Lesnoff.
The £1m (US$1.5m) redevelopment is part of a wider investment project being undertaken at the airport since 2006,
which includes the £10m (US$15m) terminal and The Aviator, a 169-room hotel situated on the airport that opened in 2008. “Our latest project is off site with the opening of The Swan pub, to the south of the airport,” explained O’Reilly. TAG bought the pub – which has been in operation since 1861 – about 18 months ago and has fully refurbished it. “We had a soft opening for staff on November 24 and it will open officially to the public on December 4. It is a standalone business overseen by The Aviator staff and is an extension of our hospitality facilities here in Farnborough,” continued O’Reilly.
While this phase of the redevelopment is now complete, O’Reilly believes there will always been room for improvement. “We currently operate at about 25,000 movements per year which is half of our capacity, so there will be room for more development in the future. We’re all about creating an efficient, calm environment for our clients and will continue to move the airport forward as one of the best business aviation airports in Europe,” he concluded.