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Twenty two minutes from London Oxford Airport to Central London

PUBLISHED: 11:38 09 May 2014 | UPDATED: 11:38 09 May 2014

You might joke, and some do, that London Oxford Airport’s name sounds a bit.. pretentious. But not to managing director, 33-year old Andi Pargeter. “If you are searching from the US or UAE for a general aviation airport close to London, we wouldn’t have come up on the internet before, but we do as London Oxford Airport.”

It can take just 22 minutes to get to Central London as the owners of the airport, the Reuben Brothers, also own London’s only Heliport at Battersea.

“We can have a helicopter ready and waiting when our customers touch down here” adds Andi. For VIPs not taking a helicopter, a car can be waiting on the apron to whisk them away from the airport within two minutes. A smart terminal ensures the comfort of the pilots and support staff, and for the increasing number of business jet arrivals and departures.

Andi has been at London Oxford Airport since 2010, first as finance director then managing director, having worked for FTSE 100 company First Great Western followed by outsourcing company, Capita.

It’s a big job for a lady with plenty of financial experience but no university qualification, however the Reuben Brothers recognised Andi’s potential. The airport has a turnover of between £12 to £14 million and it’s growing.

“We currently focus on business jet travel but can offer scheduled services to destinations such as to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Munich, Amsterdam and Paris, anywhere within about a 90-minute flight time. We are equidistant from Heathrow and Birmingham and could be the Thames Valley airport,” said Andi.

Airline revenue for airports, however, is low with profits coming from car parking and retail. “Parking here is no problem but we miss the retail. We could build a £2 million retail building on the assumption that we will get an airline, but they expect not to pay any fees for 12 months, in which case I am incurring staff, building, capital investment costs, initially for no return.”

It’s a Mexican stand off. If an airport wants airlines, it must have additional facilities but to afford the infrastructure investment, it has to negotiate with the airlines to shoulder some of the risk.

New radar was installed in time for the Olympics and close to £5 million has been spent on new taxiways, aprons, lights, hangarage and office space. In the meantime, London Oxford Airport is bringing back its successful Jersey charter service again this year.

Where London Oxford makes money is from other businesses on site. “CAE Oxford Aviation Academy has been here for over 65 years, and the Oxford Training Centre has trained over 28,000 pilots,” said Andi. “We also have Hangar 8 Plc, one of the largest private jet aircraft management companies in Europe, and Airbus Helicopters along with Capital Air Services and a new helicopter startup, A2B Heli Maintenance. We also have smaller flying schools.”

The new Oxford Parkway train station, being built at nearby Water Eaton, is likely to be a game-changer for the airport. Opening in 2017, and just a five minute journey from the airport, travellers will be able to jump on a fast train to London without having to travel to Oxford’s city centre train station.”

Andi’s strategy for the airport is for it to become a small regional airport with scheduled services. “Our runway is the same length as London City and there is no reason why we cannot maintain the mix of businesses and add scheduled services to a places for which there is a demand.”

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This article is from the May 14 issue of Business & Professional Life

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