Best airport alternates during RAF Northolt’s closure

PT 2 M minute read

Oct. 31, 2019 UPDATE: RAF Northolt Airport (EGWU) reopened following runway construction.

The runway at RAF Northolt Airport (EGWU) is scheduled to be closed for seven months in spring 2019. The closure starts April 5th and reopens for commercial business aviation business on November 11th. Because Northolt handles several thousand business jet movements per year, its closure will have an impact on operations to the London area.

Here’s what you need to know about the closure and some alternative airports to utilize:

Why is Northolt closing for seven months?

The closure will allow a construction crew to resurface the runway, which needs to be repaired for Northolt to continue to be a military airport. The resurfacing is much needed, as it was last done more than 40 years ago. The runway will be dug out completely and resurfaced. Improvements are also planned to the drainage system and new military arrester beds installed.

What are some alternative London-area airports?

There are eight airports in the immediate London area to handle general aviation (GA) flights, but only two are 24-hour airports – Stansted (EGSS) and Luton (EGGW). While all airports have their own unique operating restrictions, EGSS is particularly user-friendly, efficient, and flexible in terms of schedule changes. EGSS provides a very smooth experience for passengers and crew in terms of services, express clearance of customs, and accommodation of any necessary schedule revisions.

London-Stansted Airport (EGSS) Operational Details

  • EGSS is available 24/7 with customs services throughout the day.
  • Stage 2 aircraft may land at any time. However, due to noise restrictions, these operators may not depart between 2330 and 0600 local. Night slots are possible subject to availability and are issued on a first come basis.
  • Customs clearance is possible either onboard your aircraft, at the fixed base operator (FBO) adjacent to the ramp on arrival. The clearance process is at the discretion of the customs/immigration/quarantine (CIQ) officer on duty.
  • Vehicles (prepaid transportation and taxis) with appropriate documentation are permitted on the ramp to pick up/drop off passengers or crew planeside.
  • While airport slots are required for arrival and departure, they’re easy to obtain and seldom impacted by any peak periods of airline activity. Prior permission required (PPR) isn’t needed for this airport.
  • Runways, taxiways, and tarmac are in good condition with no work or closures forecasted throughout 2019. With a 10,000-foot runway, EGSS can accommodate aircraft up to business/VIP, configured up to and including a B747-400. 
  • The airfield is cost-effective with aircraft parking fees that are not prohibitive. Aviation fuel prices are among the most reasonable in the London area.

For more information on operational procedures at EGSS, Universal Aviation UK – Stansted can help.

Location-Specific Advantages

The field is located very close to the freeway (within five minutes) with good access to London. Canary Wharf and the financial district are about 45 minutes’ drive time. London’s West End (where popular hotels are located) is about a 1 hour 15-minute drive. For operators who need to remain overnight (RON) at EGSS, good hotels are available near the airport.


With the upcoming closure of Northolt Airport, operators who planned on operating to this airport will need to find alternative solutions. Depending on your final destination, London-Stansted could be a viable solution. You can read more about operating to Stansted here or contact Universal Aviation UK – Stansted.

Got a question for Jason about this article?