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Business at London Ashford Airport is booming – that was the key message delivered to around 70 company leaders and directors during an event held to showcase the services and facilities available there.
They heard details of exciting new air travel options for corporate and leisure travellers, an update on a multi-million-pound investment in a runway extension and hangar facilities, the establishment of a helicopter search and rescue base, rising passenger and aircraft numbers, and the creation of more jobs.
The event was jointly organised by the airport and Atlantic Bridge Aviation, the largest and longest-established aviation company based at Lydd. It was supported by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.
The exclusive by-invitation-only event was aimed at those who regularly travel on business or for pleasure, corporate hospitality bookers, firms and individuals with an interest in the aviation and travel sectors, potential business partners and tenants, the owners of private aircraft or those considering buying or selling an aircraft or a part-share in one, and anyone interested in playing and membership opportunities at Lydd Golf Club.
Chamber chief executive Jo James welcomed guests and said that successful regional airports like Lydd had a key role to play in helping to stimulate the Kent economy, acting as a catalyst for growth and prosperity.
Airport chief executive Charles Buchanan said Lydd was making real progress in delivering its expansion plans. Construction work on the runway extension is due to start this winter and will be completed by summer 2016. The 294m runway extension, plus a 150m starter extension, will help Lydd attract a mix of holiday charter flights, city centre commuter operators and scheduled services, he said.
Charles said: “Lydd Aero Club has been based here for many years and in the last 12 months we have added two more flying training organisations. 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.”
Bristow has completed the installation of a Search and Rescue helicopter base at Lydd in readiness for services to begin on 1 July. The operation employs 30 staff, including pilots, engineers and support staff.
“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. We are investing £700,000 in constructing a new hangar that will be occupied by 20 or more private aircraft. The year ahead looks very exciting as we prepare to grow and prosper,” added Charles.
Jonathan Gordon, the founder and managing director of Atlantic Bridge Aviation (ABA), explained that the company was offering an exciting new range of corporate and leisure air travel options, including a highly-affordable aircraft ownership scheme.
“Gone are the days when executive air travel was a simple choice between owning your own aircraft or chartering one. Now there’s a multitude of options, ranging from leasing and chartering to shared or full ownership through our Air Share division.
“There’s little doubt that flying in an executive aircraft has major benefits for frequent flyers, whether you’re travelling regularly on business or visiting your second home in the sun. It offers the flexibility to work to your own schedule, enables you to fly in and out of smaller airports which may be much closer to where you need to be and saves precious time.
“Using an executive aircraft can be cost-effective if you go for the right package but given the choices, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of confusion about what’s best for you. The most important thing is to get expert advice at the outset so that you end up with a made-to-measure solution that suits your travel needs,” said Jonathan.
The highlight of the event for many guests was the opportunity to step aboard and inspect the fleet of luxury piston, turbo-prop and jet aircraft operated from Lydd by World Executive Airways, a subsidiary of ABA.
Everyone attending had the chance to win one of two champagne flights for two people courtesy of Lyddair, also a subsidiary of ABA. The lucky winners were the Chamber’s Richard Lavender and Alan Smith of Waterloo Air Products of Aylesford.
Before the event ended, guests were able to talk to the airport’s resident flying clubs about private hire and flying experiences and also learn more about special offers available at the re-launched Lydd Golf Club adjoining the airport.
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