The Future Airplane Logo

Cityjet Avro RJ-85 at London Oxford Airport

The airport intends to be identified as the primary aerospace industry hub between Heathrow and Birmingham and the Thames Valley's default regional airport, serving the population of Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties with convenient, local air services.

Having originally been run by the flight training school (Oxford Aviation Academy) management team for much of its 80-year history, since 2003, the airport has been operated as a stand-alone separate company (Oxford Aviation Services Ltd) with a key focus on improving amenities, infrastructure and services for the general aviation (GA) and business aviation (Biz Av) sectors of the market. However, there is now a focus on introducing a limited number of scheduled airline services as the airport’s capabilities have been enhanced. This was driven by a marked decrease in the historically dominant flying training movements (a take-off or landing) with the establishment several years ago of an overseas, 'fair weather' operational base in Arizona. The flying school (OAA) continues to thrive at Oxford as the premier training facility in Europe and indeed is growing in terms of student numbers, but the use of several new, advanced ground-based simulators has reduced flight training hours in aircraft by over 20%. Commercial IFR (instrument) training remains centred at Oxford, but VFR (visual) training is mainly undertaken overseas.

The airport has no formal ‘Master Plan’ as required for larger regional airports in the UK as part of the UK government’s 2003 Aviation White paper. Instead it has lodged with its local authority a general overview indicating a desire to increase hangarage in the main, to permit established companies to grow and entice new businesses to reside at the airport in the fields of engineering support and operations. The airport currently considers new developments as and when client demand dictates the need for new facilities or enhancements with a basic concept of where such development is practical on the airport. A Section 106 Agreement is in place with Cherwell District Council based upon this general overview which defines some limits on the airport’s capacity and hours of operation. Any plans for new facilities or amenities evolve according to anticipated demand and any new developments are tabled with the local authority as part of the due consultation process.

Until the late 1990’s, the airport was the fourth busiest in the UK with typically 160,000 movements a year. Since then, we have seen a massive 77% decline overall, albeit that on some days the airfield remains busy with several hundred movements a day. Typically Oxford's traffic consists of 73% light general aviation (of which 30% is single-engined pistons and 70% twin-engined pistons), 5% airline flights, 7% helicopter flights and 15% turbine ‘business’ aviation (jets or turboprops). Commercial pilot training activity still represents typically 55% of all movements. Historically, Oxford's runway was once the busiest in the world, with over 235,000 movements a year. It is perhaps worth highlighting that Oxford has in the recent past seen over 900 movements in just a 2 hour period for one Silverstone Grand Prix weekend, over 1,100 movements in one day and over 4,500 movements in a week. Even by international standards, that is an exceptional level of activity.

Accordingly, with the very significant drop in movements, Oxford has started a new phase in its history which is driving some new initiatives. These are focused mainly around the desire to encourage more turbine business aviation activity and also to stimulate greater use of the airfield by the recreational GA market. For instance, it is now cheaper to park a light aircraft at Oxford than it is to park your car each weekday at the local train station. The most significant of the changes has been the widening and strengthening of the runway in 2007 (now with the same physical dimensions as London City Airport) which now enables more commercial and charter aircraft types to be able to land at Oxford than was previously possible. This has a direct benefit to the local business community who use such services much more extensively now.

Many improvements have already been instigated over the last few years and continue today amongst which include:

  • Installation of state of the art primary and secondary radar system
  • Installation of an instrument Landing System (ILS)
  • Replacement of all control tower (ATC) systems and communication equipment
  • Establishment of a local weather 'MET' service and instrumentation
  • 10% extension of the licensed landing distance to 1319m and 20% for the take off distance to 1592m
  • Widening and strengthening of the whole 1552m runway length
  • Grooving of the full runway length for better braking friction levels
  • Extensive refurbishment of offices and hangars
  • Construction of new hangars – 78% increase in footprint in five years
  • Establishment of an 8,000 sq.ft. business aviation terminal with new amenities:
    • Pilot's offices & lounges
    • VIP & VVIP Lounges
    • Crew kitchen
    • Meeting rooms
    • Shower amenities
    • Crew rest rooms
    • Security (NASP) screening facilities
  • New runway lighting and revised PAPI (approach light) angles
  • New taxiway surfaces and edge lighting
  • Resurfaced and extended apron (aircraft parking) areas
  • Increased opening hours and capability
  • Increased fire & rescue cover to RFF CAT 6 for regional airliners and larger business jets
  • On-site car hire facility
  • Domestic pet importation approval

Construction of new hangars – 78% increase in footprint in five years

The airport benefits from changes locally including the evolution of the adjacent business and industrial parks in north Kidlington. A separate section on this website explores some of the local and regional opportunities within our catchment area - Business Opportunities & Links. A new Kidlington (Water Eaton) rail station is to be built in 2013 giving access to Marylebone (London) Station in just 58 minutes potentially bringing passengers to our terminal from London in a little more than an hour. The East-West rail project will also connect this new local rail station to Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire via Milton Keynes with a few years.

For the next few years, it is anticipated that further hangarage, office accommodation and student accommodation (bedrooms) is likely to be required. Other than there being an ongoing need for additional hangarage and hard parking for aircraft, changes in legislation will dictate a need to relocate key facilities such as the fuel farm, fire training ground and fire and rescue services. Health & safety, environmental and security considerations remain a key focus for the airport and much work in these areas has already been undertaken.

Scheduled Air Services (Airline Services)

Scheduled air services were recently re-established in 2009 with seasonal charters to Jersey and Geneva. Scheduled services were offered in the past back in the 1990s to Jersey. Today, we now have year-round, daily commercial flights including Jersey, the Isle of Man and Belfast.

New routes continue to be assessed and pursued between Oxford and key UK and European city destinations for which a considerable local demand can be identified, but are very much subject to the considered commercial viability by prospective airlines. Some future services may just be seasonal, but all will utilise light twin turbo-prop or jet aircraft from 19 to 100 seats. The airport has in fact a longer runway than some established UK regional airports with a total field length with overshoots of almost exactly one mile, so access is possible today with ATR42, ATR72, Dash-8 and BAe 146 (Avro RJ) types. It is however possible to land an Airbus A318/319 or Embraer EMB-190 on the runway which can have up to 110 seats, albeit with range limitations out of Oxford. Terminal facilities are very limited in size and as such the airport may currently only cater for a few rotations a day of commercial flights and then only one such rotation at a time due to current resources, check-in facilities and overall space for passenger co-ordination and handling.

See our Commercial/Airline section for more on the scope and opportunities to develop this part of our market.

For any specific enquiries on development, opportunities and our aspirations, please contact:

General Enquires
Tel: +44 (0)1865 290 600 / 710

Jetstream 31 on a daily commercial flight for

Airport Planning Matters

General Aviation Carbon Offset Scheme

General Enquiries:   T: +44 (0)1865 290 600 / 710
Copyright © 2004-2017 Oxford Aviation Services Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy