Cambridge Airport, Apollo Launch Helo Charter Service
Apollo Air Service has begun operating charter helicopter flights from England’s Cambridge City Airport, in a partnership both operator and airfield see as important for growth.
Apollo is basing one of its fleet of AgustaWestland AW109 aircraft at the airport, which is its first base in the UK’s southeast. The company also operates out of Carlisle and Leeds in the north of England; Cardiff, Wales; and St Andrews, Scotland. The partnership is for an initial one-year period, renewable by mutual consent.
The company’s managing director, Steve Graham, said the partnership will allow Apollo to serve customers looking for flights from the London regional market into northern Europe.
“We are seeing more inquiries for trips to Paris and northern Europe as customers want to avoid commercial planes,” he said. “From a distance perspective, this is more feasible and cost-effective for both us and our clients.”
For the airport, having a helicopter charter service available will help the site compete for inbound business air traffic. Biggin Hill Airport has a helicopter shuttle connecting the airfield to the south of London with Battersea Heliport on the Thames; Oxford Airport, which shares an owner with the heliport, also offers shuttle flights to and from the capital.
Cambridge Airport’s owners, Marshalls, opened a refurbished FBO at the site last year, despite announcing plans to relocate in 2030. Increasing the number of business jet movements at what is presently an airfield heavily reliant on general-aviation traffic is a key part of the airport’s plan for the next decade.
“We’re looking to constantly evolve and improve our service offering,” Kevan Craske, airport director, told The Weekly of Business Aviation. “We see the future growth coming from the corporate [market]. That’s why we refurbished the FBO, and have brought Apollo in.”
Craske said movements at Cambridge were affected heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic, but numbers have bounced back strongly. Movements were down in April by 93% against 2019, but July saw a 77% increase on the same month last year. “And we’ve already surpassed last August’s figures,” he said. Many of these movements, however, may be due to pent-up demand as the several flying schools based at Cambridge have resumed operations.