Exclusive interview: CEO of TAG Farnborough Airport

The benefits of private jet travel include speed, time saving and bespoke service. And all of that starts on the ground, before the customer even sets foot on an aircraft.

The experience at the airport is a brief but very important part of the whole customer experience of private aviation. And the FBO facility and handling services at the airport allow travellers to save time and hassle. Watch our video: What happens at a private jet airport.

Brandon O'Reilly, TAG Farnborough Airport CEOTo ensure that your jet is ready to take off on time and that you get the best assistance in the airport, fixed-base operators (FBOs) are the terminal facilities at the airport that provide hangaring, fuel, aircraft maintenance and many other services for general aviation aircraft – and their customers and crew.

To give a deeper insight into how FBOs work, we put a few questions to Brandon O’Reilly, CEO of TAG Farnborough Airport, which is both a dedicated business aviation airport and FBO rolled into one.

Brandon has 30 years’ experience in the aviation industry and he has previously held senior positions with British Airways, American Airlines and United Airlines. He has now been working as the CEO of TAG Farnborough Airport since 2006 and is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Brandon talked to us about the day-to-day job and the future for Farnborough Airport, the UK’s only dedicated private jet airport and one of the busiest airports in London (it saw 22,496 movements in 2014).

Q: Can you describe a typical day, what it’s like to run TAG Farnborough Airport?

A: As CEO, my responsibility is to create a world-class, bespoke airport experience for business aviation customers. There is a great deal going on right now. We are currently upgrading our main terminal building with additional lounge space for passengers and enhanced crew facilities, including a gymnasium.

We have also recently opened a second entrance to the site for the exclusive use of passengers and crew, enabling even swifter access to and from the airport.

Q: Prior to being CEO at TAG Farnborough you were at United Airlines – how did your previous role prepare you for working in private aviation?

A: Working for a major, multi-faceted airline such as United helped develop the leadership discipline required to run a high quality aviation related company such as TAG Farnborough Airport.

Q: TAG Farnborough Airport has seen an incredible growth under your tenure. What has been the most challenging aspect of growing an airport? What has been the most exciting development?

A: We have invested in excess of £200 million to transform Farnborough from a military airfield to what it is today – the only airport in the UK that focuses purely on business aviation. With modern, advanced facilities, we are well placed to take advantage of the increasing demand in this market.

TAG Farnborough Airport

As the airport continues to grow, we are also seeking to improve operation of the surrounding airspace. Last month, we submitted an Airspace Change Proposal to the UK Civil Aviation Authority, in order to introduce a new airspace design.

Following public consultation, we proposed airspace changes that would lead to further reductions in noise and CO2 emissions, enhanced airspace efficiency and safety. The CAA is now evaluating our proposal and is expected to make a decision later in the year.

Q: For someone flying in and out of London what are the key benefits that FAB offers over other London airports?

Reception Desk in the Terminal at TAG Farnborough AirportA: London as a global city is an important destination for business travellers. Based 40 miles from central London, we are the UK’s only dedicated business aviation airport.

We offer a wide range of amenities including concierge service, direct ramp access for customers wanting to drive up to waiting jets, a crew room with ‘snooze’ facilities, and The Aviator Hotel (also part of the TAG Group) located on-site. This, together with hangar space, fuelling, cleaning and engineering services, make TAG Farnborough Airport the one-stop-shop of choice for business aviation customers travelling through London.

TAG Farnborough Airport has repeatedly been ranked as best FBO in Europe.

Q: Are pets welcome at Farnborough?

A: Our customers can be accompanied by their pets when travelling to and from Farnborough Airport under the Pet Travel Scheme. All pet travel is subject to aircraft operator approval and relevant animal checks.

Q: As business aviation is hopefully emerging from the recession, what is the private jet customer now looking for, and what is the industry’s biggest challenge going forward to deliver that?

Business people need to travel efficiently and quickly to destinations worldwide for meetings and to sign deals.

A significant amount of business aviation traffic to and from London continues to go through airports which are constrained. As the business aviation market grows, we believe that there is a need to make best use of existing infrastructure in the region. We are geographically and organisationally well placed to take additional business aviation traffic from congested commercial airports.

Airside view of the Terminal and Hangars at TAG Farnborough Airport

Q: The biannual air show at Farnborough is obviously a key showcase opportunity. How important is this for the airport?

A: TAG Farnborough Airport is proud to host the Farnborough International Airshow, which has been held at Farnborough since 1948 and has become the largest global event of its kind.

It puts Farnborough Airport on the world map and provides a platform for over 1,500 exhibitors from around 40 countries in aerospace, defence, space and security to showcase aircraft and new technology.

Not only is the show important for the industry and the public, it also makes a valuable contribution to the local economy, including the recruitment of temporary staff, mostly young people from the Farnborough area.

Q: With aviation in your blood, what’s your favourite aircraft and why?

A: The A380. An incredible feat of aviation design and an excellent travelling experience.

TAG Farnborough Airport control towerQ: Farnborough to …where? What would be your perfect private jet route experience and why?

A: Athens. Part of me will always be in Greece.

Q: Farnborough has been used as a location in many movies – how much is the image and architecture part of the success of the airport?

A: The main airport buildings are each tailored to fit their specific functions and to create a distinctive setting.

The state-of-the-art terminal building that opened in 2006 was designed by REID Architecture and won a series of awards, including the 2007 RIBA award.

For private jet pricing or advice to fly in and out of Farnborough airport (or any other airport) contact us or call the PrivateFly flight team on +44 (0) 1747 642 777.