A new pricing scheme to stimulate renewed interest amongst operators and owners of single-engine executive helicopters to use London's only commercially-licensed heliport, is being announced today, 25th June, ahead of this summer's Olympics in July. The Reuben Brothers, who already own London Oxford Airport, purchased the heliport in Battersea four months ago. Today, management of the Barclays London Heliport confirmed that landing fees for lighter single-engine helicopters, including types such as the Bell 206 Jet Ranger and Eurocopter AS350, will be reduced by up to 20%. The move is a rational approach designed to invigorate renewed use and promote access to central London from such a strong location.
Furthermore, in a bid to encourage synergy with London Oxford Airport, a 22-minute flight away by helicopter, the management team highlighted the introduction of some attractive price incentives to encourage operators to interline jets and helicopters at the two ports. Effective this month, any visiting jets at London Oxford Airport connecting with heliport-originating or destined helicopters, will now qualify for a 50% reduction in landing fees for a business jet of 15 tonnes or more. Helicopters interlining with a jet at Oxford will also receive a free landing. There will be a 25% reduction for jets under 15 tonnes. The associated helicopter will also qualify for a 50% reduction in the associated landing fee at the Heliport- a deal which can represent a saving of up to £1,000 per trip.
“Now owned by an airport operator, rather than an aircraft charter and management company, we are pleased to say that there is no longer any perceived conflict of interest from helicopter operators within the industry," said London Oxford Airport Managing Director Chris Orphanou. This is reflected in a clear shift of activity amongst the charter operators. Harrods Aviation, with a 12% share of movements since the acquisition, is now the lead operator. PremiAir, the Heliport’s previous owners, accounted for a 23% share movements over the same period in 2011.
Big focus on the Olympics
The Barclays London Heliport is in a strong position this summer owing to its unique position as the only aviation hub in central London (aside from London City Airport) with an exemption to the No Fly Zone during the Games. Public service flights - police, medevac and air ambulance - will be unaffected and operating hours are unchanged at 0700 to 2300, seven days a week.
"A growing number of bookings are being logged for the Olympics period and now we are urging both operators and charter brokers to hurry and confirm their slots before 1 July and log details of tail numbers in order to be included in our security database," said Barclays London Heliport General Manager Simon Hutchins. During the period of the Olympics there will be no holding on the heli-routes, helicopters will just move straight in and straight out," he stressed. "There will be no helicopter access beyond Battersea Bridge or down the Thames and non-compliance could remove special exemption rights for on-going use of the Heliport," he warned.
There may also be a possible temporary closure of airspace or helicopter routes at little or no notice at any given time - for example during the Opening and Closing ceremonies. A new Local Flying Area (LFA) trial is currently being evaluated to the south which may provide an alternative southern departure option relieving some locals of related noise issues. This will conclude on 30th June whereupon a decision will be made whether or not to adopt this access zone option.
Innovative river transport solutions to the Olympic Park
Just as they have consistently invested at London Oxford Airport to improve operations and infrastructure (the airport now handles 6,000 business aviation movements a year and is home to over 30 business jets and 25 tenant companies), so the Reuben Brothers are committed to improving accessibility at the Barclays London Heliport and maximising the use of the river for complementary transport. Plans are being explored for a new pier at the heliport site, said James Dillon-Godfray, who has expanded his business development role at Oxford Airport with that of the Heliport.
For the period of the Games the Heliport will be working with and actively promoting arrangements with Diplomat Cruises and London Rib Voyages to offer clients a unique 'Pad to Park' experience. Innovative river transport to the Olympic Park via Limehouse Marina is offered aboard an eight-seat VIP configured 37ft Sunseeker Superhawk Shaken not Stirred, as featured in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. In addition a 36ft 12-seat enclosed VIP high speed RIB, Chelsea Flyer will be available. Full corporate hospitality packages are now available for clients who want to enjoy a memorable and special experience when they travel to the Games in East London, having of course flown into the Heliport.
A unique asset and synergy with horseracing interests
The Reuben Brothers were attracted to London's only licensed heliport because it is a unique asset and iconic site, which fits with their investment portfolio. It has been in existence for more than 50 years, but in 2010 the Heliport was transformed with massive refurbishment, a new terminal, control tower, new meetings and conference facilities and an adjacent five star luxury hotel.
Helicopters are valuable time machines for clients travelling on business, but there is also a keen and growing interest for helicopter use for leisure and corporate hospitality. The Reubens' interests give them approximately 40% ownership in the UK racecourse market. Last week saw a 50% increase in movements on Royal Ascot Ladies Day over last year, whilst advanced bookings for the Silverstone F1 Grand Prix have more than doubled over 2011 figures.
The Barclays London Heliport provides unique accessibility for Londoners to leading Reubens-owned race courses - the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster, the Northumberland Plate Festival, Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park, the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, the Welsh Grand National and Silver Trophy Hurdle at Chepstow.
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