Q: TAG Farnborough Airport has invested very substantially over the last few years in the facilities and build environment at Farnborough. Can you take us through the development stages, the rationale for all the improvements and whether more are planned?
A: We have invested in excess of £200 million to transform the airport from a military airfield to what it is today. TAG Farnboroug Airport is the only airport in the UK which is exclusively dedicated to business aviation, providing purpose-built facilities and service tailored to the needs of the market. As we see increasing demand for higher-volume flights, we have invested in additional facilities for passengers and crew. A new passenger lounge accommodates up to 80 passengers, whilst also offering privacy and comfort to individuals and small groups. The sophisticated interior is adorned by a fuselage clock, coffee table and exhaust lamp custom made from vintage aircraft parts. Other distinctive features include a “TopBrewer” coffee machine which can be operated via an iPad provided, and a gallery seating area overlooking the runway. Waiting crew members can relax in the upgraded quiet lounges or ‘snooze’ rooms equipped with flat beds and a zero-gravity ergonomic chair, or use the exclusive gymnasium and shower facilities. We continue to listen to our customers, with a view to making further improvements to their airport experience in the future. We now have 15 employees. In 2016, we added sales staff in Portland, Scottsdale, Denver and New Jersey, giving us a very significant presence in the US. All in all, we are very pleased with the growth that we have seen so far.
Q: Are you seeing an upsurge in aircraft movements? What do you feel about the prospects for 2017 as opposed to 2016?
A: TAG Farnborough Airport is a growing business aviation airport serving customers from around the world. We operate approximately 25,000 flights per year which accounts for around half of our permitted capacity. A 3.2% increase in total air traffic movements (ATMs) was reported for the first four months of 2017. We are also seeing more airliner-derived aircraft (50-80 ton maximum take-off weight) such as Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets, flying in and out of Farnborough. Many of these aircraft operate to and from the US, Middle East and Asia. The investment in infrastructure and services we have made over the years means that we are well placed to take advantage of this increasing demand.
Q: TAG Farnborough Airport’s sister company TAG Aviation covers a range of services, from charter to MRO and engineering. Can you tell us about the one-stop-shop approach the TAG Group has put together?
A: Farnborough is truly a one-stop-shop for business aviation customers and offers a complete portfolio of services. Our sister company TAG Aviation provides aircraft management, charter and 24/7 maintenance services. Th e Aviator luxury hotel, which is also part of the TAG Group, is conveniently located on site. Along with award-winning facilities and a dedicated team, TAG Farnborough Airport offers a range of amenities including a fast-track entrance to the airport for the exclusive use of passengers and crew, direct ramp access to waiting jets, on-site customs and immigration clearance, concierge service, as well as a meeting and event space. All of this allows our customers to make the best use of their time when travelling through London for business.
Q: You deal with some of the most demanding and sophisticated clients on the planet. How do you ensure that everyone is on their A-game at all times? What is involved by way of quality control and training?
A: We strive for excellence and take a can-do approach. Our customer service and operations teams are responsible for everything that interfaces with the customer, from crew and passengers to aircraft operators and brokers. They also assist passengers and crew with a range of requests while they are at the airport, focusing on a personal, one-to-one service. We have repeatedly topped international FBO polls and received industry awards, which are a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our airport team at Farnborough. Direct customer feedback is very important to us too and we have installed iPads with feedback forms in the main terminal building.
Q: In the US fuel sales tend to be the major revenue driver for FBOs by a long way, what are the major revenue sources for a UK FBO and how can you drive growth?
A: We offer heated hangar facilities (240,000 sq ft ) and ample ramp space (1.2 million sq ft ), providing a secure home for permanently parked and transient aircraft. Our extra capacity ensures that we don’t have to turn anyone away. We do have our own fuel provision at TAG Farnborough Airport as well.
Q: How much of an additional concierge service do you look to provide for clients, ie, by way of hotel bookings, onward planning and the like?
A: Our Handling team assists customers in arranging a variety of services, including bookings for local hotels or onward transfers. Our on-site concierge team also assist
with welcoming both passengers and crew at the airport. Crew members are as important as passengers to us. At the moment, we are trialling a new service where arriving crew will be handed a key for their booked room at the Aviator hotel, making their transit even smoother.
Q: How does TAG Farnborough fit in with the general business community in the area?
A: We are a good neighbour, working closely with business partners and the local community in and around Farnborough. Besides being involved in many community schemes and supporting local charities, we are also working with schools and colleges to educate students about aviation and encourage them to become involved in this industry. Environment management is also an important aspect of our work at the airport. We have invested in initiatives such as a state-of-the-art noise tracking system, sustainable staff travel, waste management, and are on target to become one of the first carbon neutral airports in the UK.