Commitment to Bizav
According to Rayment, TAG's interest in operating Farnborough grew out of its desire to establish an "international group offering quality aviation across the board. They could see from their involvement in aviation that there was a major deficiency in business aviation in the London area."
The lease on the airfield is a straightforward lease, explains Rayment, that "might as well be a freehold. We don't pay very much in terms of ground rent; it's a peppercorn rent. For that peppercorn rent, we've rebuilt the airport."
There are stipulations in the lease stating that the 600-acre airfield must be operated as a business aviation airport. "In effect, in two years we can't say, ?no this isn't working as a business aviation airport.'"
In late 2003, TAG purchased the maintenance facility on the field operated by Les Batty and now known as TAG Farnborough Engineering. Batty has been operating at Farnborough since 1991. "We knew we wanted a quality engineering/support facility on the field," explains Rayment. "Not because we make a lot of money out of engineering, but because we need the support on site. The company that was here was a one man business that really needed investment to develop it." The maintenance facility is responsible for some 15 percent of TAG Farnborough's annual revenues.
In addition to the maintenance facility, TAG also operates the FBO, which sells some 20 million liters (approximately 5.28 million gallons) of fuel annually. There are some 35 tenants on the airfield, primarily aircraft operators, including charter brokers.
There are some 40 based aircraft at Farnborough, which has a single runway, 2,053 meters (approximately 6,734 feet) in licensed length. A ban on stage 2 aircraft does limit the traffic, but Rayment says this is not to the detriment of the airport. Farnborough is also a by-request only airport. "Farnborough has a private use license," says Rayment. "Which basically means it's a private facility. You cannot bring your aircraft here unless we say you can. We're not allowed to have scheduled services, inclusive tours, handle freight, or have a flight school." Rayment is quick to add that "we don't want any of those. We didn't contest any of those issues because they're not part of our commercial business plan. We had no problem whatsoever in agreeing to those conditions of the local authority."
Currently, Farnborough handles some 18,000 movements annually, and has the capacity to handle 28,000 annual movements, Rayment says.
Similar to the stunning new control tower, other development on the airfield by TAG are not only functional but aesthetically pleasing as well. Explains Rayment, "As we started the development, we looked at things from a slightly expanded perspective. We decided that if we were going to put up new hangars, we really didn't want to build the old, traditional, square box hangars. We wanted to build something that would create an impression."
A new 50,000-square foot terminal building, expected to be complete by the end of 2005, will follow similar design elements of the hangars and control tower. The wing-shaped building will house a passenger lounge, meeting rooms, airport administration. Half of the new building will be leased to aviation-related tenants.
The airport also has planning permission and design approval for another three hangar bays, which would add 100,000 square feet. "That construction will be dependent on whether we can realistically see that there is enough business to fill it," says Rayment.
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As a licensed Transport Canada Maintenance Engineer, Rudy held leadership roles in several Aircraft Maintenance and Repair Operations; he held management positions at CAE and FlightSafety...