Investment in a longer runway and new hangar facilities is set to give Kent’s London Ashford Airport at Lydd a huge business boost in 2015, says Chief Executive Charles Buchanan.
Buchanan, who took over in September last year, said the airport is making major progress in delivering its plans to grow and prosper. This optimism for the year ahead is based on rising passenger numbers, an increase in aircraft traffic and the creation of more jobs.
Referring to recent press reports on Bristow’s operation of the new Search and Rescue helicopter service from LAA, he said work has already started on the installation of their facilities and the base is set to go live on 1 July this year. This new operation will employ approximately 30 staff including pilots, rear-crew, engineers and support staff.
Buchanan said: “The airport’s main traffic has been and remains general aviation, that is mostly private flying. LyddAero Club has been based here for many years, and in the last 12 months we have added two more flying training organisations – TG Aviation and South Coast Microlights. In addition there’s Eagle Aero Engineering which supports both the aircraft based at the airport and others flown in specifically for maintenance and technical checks.
“Last year, with the closure of Manston, Lydd saw a small number of charter operations during the summer. Due to our existing runway length, these aircraft were not able to operate with a full payload of passengers, but instead had to fly with some empty seats. This is the reason that we have been seeking permission for so long to extend the runway length.
“Last summer the final planning hurdle was cleared and we are now preparing to start construction, hopefully at the end of this year. The planning permission granted contained a large number of conditions and requirements for us to satisfy to ensure that our development remains compatible with environmental concerns.
“We’re fully committed to meeting our agreements on these points and working through these is the task in hand currently. Many of the issues have been addressed, with information provided to Shepway District Council for their approval.
“There is a growing demand at Lydd driven by business and general aviation. In 2014 we handled 10% more passengers and 15% more aircraft movements than the previous year, and this year the trends are continuing.
“As part of satisfying this demand we are investing £700,000 in constructing a new hangar, next to the existing one, that will be occupied by 20 or more private aircraft. This new facility has the potential to attract more aircraft to be based here.
“As we grow so do the employment opportunities at the airport. In recent weeks we have engaged seven new staff in various roles from air traffic control to catering, six of whom already live in the immediate local area.
“The year ahead looks very exciting for London Ashford Airport as we prepare to extend our runway, grow our business and develop new facilities.”
The airport has spent £35 million upgrading facilities over the past decade, including the installation of an instrument landing system, a new executive terminal with VIP facilities, improved passenger check-in and security, and a new departure lounge. The airport caters for a range of aircraft operations and provides extensive services, including air traffic control and navigational aids, an FBO with 24-hour operating capability, full terminal services and engineering and cargo facilities.
For further information about the airport visit www.lydd-airport.co.uk
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