|Baboo CEO Jacques Bankir greets his crew on arrival in Oxford and in turn is also welcomed by James Dillon-Godfray, head of marketing and development, London Oxford Airport.|
We end this year on anna.aero with a small, but important tale about the launch of the first international service from London Oxford Airport. This is not a big airport by any means, but it is significant to me because it is my local airport and because recognising those pioneering entrepreneurs who go out to start a route to serve a community’s demand for business – or just its desire to have fun – is really what network planning and anna.aero is all about.
The biggest downside of living in a delightful part of the Oxfordshire countryside is the fact that until now, the only airport with scheduled commercial flights within one hour’s drive was London Heathrow. So this weekend, I got very excited when Baboo began weekly scheduled flights from London Oxford Airport, just 10 minutes drive from my home, to its Geneva base for the duration of the winter ski season.
Besides the addition of “London” to its name, the airport has made considerable investment in a high quality facility to handle business aviation, complete with full security screening, and an all-business class lounge which is also used by all passengers on scheduled flights. This has already been used throughout the summer by Air Southwest which has operated weekly charter flights to Jersey with a 50-seat aircraft, although the new Baboo service steps things up again by using larger 74-seat Q400s.
|Disappointingly for anna.aero readers, there was no cake, but there were seasonal mince pies and Bankir was presented with “The History of Oxford Airport” by Steve Jones, London Oxford Airport’s managing director.|
More new routes coming in 2010?
Indeed, with a 1,300-metre runway a wide-range of domestic and international destinations could be served from London Oxford Airport, given the right aircraft. The airport believes that a daily domestic service to Scotland should be viable, while a link to KLM’s hub in Amsterdam would also appear to have considerable potential – after all Oxford’s demographics are extraordinarily good: The population of 150,000 is not remarkable by UK standards but its famous university leads an impressive field of other colleges and institutes hosting 20,000 students with well above average wealth and with an extremely high propensity to travel.
|Baboo CEO Jacques Bankir talks to BBC television shortly before the first passengers emerge – at London Oxford Airport all facilities are business class!|
|Local man: anna.aero’s editor Ralph Anker (left) joins with Dillon-Godfray and Bankir at the route launch. Ralph, who lives 10 minutes from the airport, will be following developments “not just out of professional curiosity but also out of personal interest.” On this occasion poor weather affecting other UK airports and airline operations meant that getting back to the UK on the same day was a bit risky so he remained grounded but there were over 40 passengers on the first flight.|