London Biggin Hill Airport is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and is hoping that both the anniversary – and a £15 million “present” from HSBC – will help it attract more business aviation.
The airport in Bromley, Kent, is only 12 miles from central London, but like many airports around London, has suffered from restricted operating hours (only Luton and London Stansted operate 24 hours).
As of May 1, 2017, however, the opening hours of the airport have been extended and are now 0630 until 2300 Monday to Friday, an addition of one hour in the evenings, and 0800-2200 at the weekends (an extension of the previous 0900-2000).
The £15 million loan from HSBC is to fund infrastructure improvements for a new hanger to store up to six long range business jets, more ramp space, an office complex and a 50-room hotel for crew and engineers. The intention is for this to be open by the end of 2018.
The extended opening hours are important to allow the airport to accept transatlantic flights arriving in the early morning as well as people setting off to Europe for morning appointments.
Biggin Hill has one of the highest altitudes within London’s M25 ring road (650 feet), and was chosen as a base for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II.
Today it is still privately-owned, but enjoying success in attracting new business to the area, including recently a service centre for Bombardier. It has also opened up a Lookout Café allowing families (and plane spotters) a chance to see the unusual aircraft using the airport. It also has 13 Spitfires on location.
The airport says that it directly employs 130 people and has over 1,000 employed on site by businesses, with the aim of creating an additional 2,300 jobs by 2030.
Unlike some of its competitor airports, it has no runway slot restrictions, and a six-minute helicopter transfer service to and from the NetJets London Heliport and then car transfer allows it to boast of being able to get clients into central London by 0700.
The airport still runs the Biggin Hill Air Festival – details are here.