Biggin Hill and Oxford airports sue RAF Northolt over its expansion into commercial private jet flights
Two small UK airports that depend on business jets, Oxford and Biggin Hill, are suing the military airport, RAF Northolt because it has expanded into civilian flights. It has done this to make money for the MoD, after their budget cuts. They claim that, because Northolt is operated by the MoD and therefore taxpayer funded, it has an unfair competition advantage. The expansion at Northolt also affects the number of business jet flights that Luton and Farnborough can get, and their flight numbers have fallen in recent years. In May 2013 Northolt said it would begin to more than double the number of civilian flights from a self-imposed cap of 7,000 to 17,500 by 2016. Of that total, military movements will remain at about 5,500 a year. Northolt is the closest private jet airport to central London. The MD of Biggin Hill said: “We, like Oxford, like Farnborough, have all been through a very tough time and they’ve pulled the rug from underneath us. It’s not a level playing field.” They claim Northolt has about 15% of the London market, and are cheaper as they don’t have to meet the same safety standards as commercial airports.
Airports sue RAF Northolt over expansion into commercial flights
Small airports have had a difficult time in the past few years after passenger numbers dropped sharply following the financial crisis.
Biggin Hill estimates it has lost business worth about £4m each year, a 5 per cent reduction in market share. It handled 11,411 commercial civilian flights in 2013. Oxford airport handled 8,025 flights in the same period.
As well as being granted a judicial review that will be heard next month, Biggin Hill and Oxford airports have also taken their case to the European competition authority.
To save money, the defence department has outsourced contracts worth billions of pounds, has been selling prime properties such as its Deepcut barracks estate in Surrey, and has cut the army from about 100,000 to 80,000.
It denied that it was operating unfairly in expanding Northolt. “We do not deliberately undercut private enterprise and RAF Northolt adheres to Treasury rules,” the MoD said.
Full FT article at
Reubens take on RAF in dogfight over Northolt
John Collingridge (Sunday Times)
1 June 2014
BILLIONAIRE property moguls David and Simon Reuben have launched a legal challenge to halt the soaring number of civilian flights at RAF Northolt, the airport used by the Queen and prime minister.
The cap on civil aircraft flights at the airport in northwest London was lifted by 5,000 to 12,000 by the Ministry of Defence under plans to raise more money, and the airfield has become a favourite with business people who want to land close to the centre of London. Warren Buffett’s NetJets aviation business is a big operator at Northolt, where at least 70% of flights are now civilian.
………. and it continues …..
Full article in the Sunday Times at http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/article1417177.ece