Britain’s Ministry of Defence might sell its RAF Northolt air base in the west London suburbs as part of aggressive budget cuts. The airfield is already used for limited business aviation operations, and these could potentially increase if the property is sold to a company wanting to operate it as an airport. However, if Northolt is sold for some other commercial purpose, then the airport could be history. The options are due to be considered as part of a wider review of UK airport capacity to be launched in the spring.
The Royal Air Force’s Northolt base in west London will accept civilian helicopter flights starting January 1. Initially this will be for a six-month trial period and hangar accommodation will also be offered, subject to availability, for up to five days. Northolt is about a 40-minute drive from the center of London. The UK capital’s only other public heliport is located at Battersea on the south bank of the River Thames.
It’s quite literally fit for a queen and no more than a 40-minute drive to the heart of London, and these days the Royal Air Force’s Northolt base has capacity to spare for business aircraft. Although civil aircraft movements are limited to a ceiling of 7,000 per year, much more often than not it is perfectly possible to get a slot at the secure and conveniently situated airfield in the UK capital’s northwestern suburbs.
A new executive aircraft handling operation was launched last month at the London-area Royal Air Force Northolt base (EGWU). Premier Service is being offered through the new Northolt Handling joint venture between Regional Airports Ltd., which owns Biggin Hill (EGKB) and Southend (EGMC) airports, and Serco, which operates a line-maintenance facility at the airfield.
Executive charter and corporate aircraft operators have complained that they have been unable to get slots at London Northolt Airport since NetJets started using the facility as a forward operating base in December.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering plans to allow 30- or 40 percent more business aviation traffic at the Royal Air Force’s London-area Northolt base. At the same time, newly formed Northolt Business Aviation is preparing to offer unused air force hangar space to corporate operators.
Final bids to buy the UK’s London City Airport (LCY) were lodged on September 12 and a deal was expected to be agreed upon around press time. According to LCY managing director Richard Gooding, the sale will release new funds for further investment at the privately owned, downtown gateway.
UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Police are making inquiries into the terms under which slots at London’s Northolt Airport are allocated to civil aircraft operators. A police spokesman said it has not yet been determined whether a formal investigation will be initiated and indicated that this decision might take several weeks.