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London Oxford Airport secures green light for R&D Science Park

Rendering of London Oxford Airport’s new R&D Science Park
Rendering of London Oxford Airport’s new R&D Science Park © London Oxford Airport

London Oxford Airport has released that it will break-ground on its all-new, self-funded R&D Science Park in January 2024. This follows the successful planning application of the £48 million development, which was approved last summer.  Demolition of the original buildings has already started, paving the way for the new 200,000-ft² facility, which the airport hopes will appeal to next-gen aviation and technology businesses, along with other spin-outs and start- from the University community.  Building work will complete in time to see the first companies move in during Q4, 2024. 

In line with the airport's desire to achieve sustainable growth, London Oxford Airport issued a fuel supplier RFP recently, while construction of a new fuel farm, which will eventually support five tanks and 425,000 litres of fuel, was completed in 2021. It has also confirmed plans to offer sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in 2024. 

One of its new airport tenants is OXCCU, a spin-off from the University of Oxford's Chemistry Department. OXCUU is developing a drop-in synthetic aviation fuel, OXEFUELTM by taking atmospheric carbon dioxide and combining it with . Using its bespoke and unique catalysts and reactors, OXCCU plans to turn H2 and CO2 into long chain hydrocarbons in one simple step.

Meanwhile, work has started on Oxford Airport's largest tenant, Helicopters' new 125,000-ft² facility. Featuring provision for photovoltaic (PV) power, the site, which comprises 66,000-ft². hangarage, 59,000-ft². office space and workshops, along with seven helipads, is expected to be complete by summer 2024, coinciding with ' 50-year anniversary in the UK. 

For several years, one corner of the airport has been earmarked by Oxford County Council, firstly as a ‘Park & Ride', but more recently as an integrated ‘Transport Hub.‘ Subject to approvals and with a nominal budget of over £20 million, this could see the combination of a Rapid Transit bus system, EV charging at large scale, e-bike hire and other ground mobility solutions, all coming together in one place. The airport sees this as an opportunity to explore further integration of that ‘hub' with the provision of future air mobility offerings, however they may evolve – Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) – fixed wing air transportation and Urban Air Mobility (UAM), typically utilising electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

UAM will be big in the future, but regional air mobility will be even bigger, highlighted Darrell Swanson, Founder of EAMaven. Noting that traditional mobility has “reached its limits,” the UK airport consultancy has identified 390 potential routes among 32 regional and business airports in the UK. It outlined one specific [albeit undeclared] route from London Oxford Airport which could generate £14.9 million in revenue annually. “To service demand using a nine-seater aircraft, supporting 82.5% load factor with 183,000 passengers per annum, we would need eight aircraft serving 3,600 hours of operations per annum. That's high for a traditional turboprop, but with electric aircraft we'd be able to achieve those operational hours,” said Swanson.

London Oxford Airport is wholly owned by the Reuben Brothers.  Reuben Brothers' activities include private equity, real estate ownership and development. Businesses include shopping centres, data centres, racecourses, public houses, hotels, technology and media businesses.  At the end of February 2012, the Reubens purchased the London Heliport at London Battersea, the UK's only CAA licensed heliport. The Heliport is a 22-minute helicopter ride from London Oxford Airport.  London Oxford Airport has been one of the fastest growing airports for private business aviation in the United Kingdom over the last ten years. 

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