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Friday, May 3, 2013

UK’s Oxford Airport Growing, Despite Detrimental Olympic Effect

By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief

“Some of our bigger peers saw a fall in general aviation traffic, rather than the expected rise through the Olympic effect,” said James Dillon-Godfray, London Oxford Airport business development director. He said that the restriction zone around London had been a factor in reducing GA traffic during the period that it was in force. However, he said that the figures for the airport’s performance in 2012 compared to 2011 were excellent. Jet and turboprop movements had increased by 11 percent; flight training movements were up 12 percent; helicopter movements were down 9 percent as was recreational piston GA flights, down 16 percent (these latter two were principally due to the CAA’s Olympic flight restrictions around the London airspace).

The purchase of the London Battersea Heliport, London’s only dedicated heliport, by the Reuben Brothers (also owners of London Oxford), had meant that visitors could now be connected directly from Oxford by helicopter in 22 minutes. If incoming clients coordinated their GA arrival at Oxford with a helicopter transfer to London, an offer of a 50 percent landing fee discount was applicable at both ends.

At the start of May, London Helicopter Tours (a subsidiary of London Helicopter Centres Ltd) launched what is claimed to be the UK’s first online bookable helicopter sightseeing service. Prices start from ā‚¤199 (around $300) for a 20-minute flight. Passengers will see major landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. 

Unfortunately media commentary regarding the launch was mixed as memories of the recent helicopter crash in central London are still fresh. On Jan. 16, 2013, experienced pilot Captain Pete Barnes of Rotormotion was killed along with another person on the ground when his AW109E hit a crane on a high-rise building by the bank of the Thames in bad weather.

Simon Hutchins, manager of the London Heliport, said that he believed the tours would “attract a new profile of customers” and that the experiences on offer would mirror those of other services worldwide.

Related: Tourism News

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