Cambridge City Airport is known for its equine transportation, as well as providing streamlined access for business travellers visiting the historic city, with everything that has to offer.
However, what is perhaps less known is the valuable contribution the airport makes to the East Anglian Air Ambulance service that provides such a lifeline to the surrounding community.
Never has this charity’s services been more crucial and appreciated than at the moment, as the country battles to overcome the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“Every aspect of the air industry has been severely affected by this coronavirus challenge,” said Airport Director, Kevan Craske. “But for Covid-19 we’d be enjoying increased flights for our equine passengers and visitors looking forward to race days at Newmarket, and air displays at Duxford.
“The EAAA’s two helicopters are constantly on call, and while them being busy is never good news and we would obviously prefer them not to receive a call-out, it’s rewarding for us to know we can do our bit to ensure they can fulfil their duty to help those in need.”
The airport is owned and operated by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (Marshall ADG) and supports the region with business flights, while also acting as a hub for flying lessons and commercial airline pilot training.
It is especially renowned for its equine transportation capabilities, which is highly specialised and something very few airports are able to offer.
The airport’s location just a few miles from Newmarket, one of the country’s foremost racing venues, means travelling time for the horse is significantly reduced, which helps keep them in peak condition. It’s also convenient for equine handlers, and those who simply want to enjoy the races, all of which has been on hold since lockdown began in March.
The skies may be quieter, but Cambridge City Airport is still very much open for business, with private charter flights benefiting business travellers needing to fly while the majority of commercial flights are grounded at other regional airports.
Social distancing measures have been introduced to ensure passengers are able to maintain customer safety, including opening additional lounges at the FBO.
Marshall ADG provides essential services maintaining military C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft for a number of global air forces, which undertake medevac and cargo missions in the fight against the Coronavirus. Those flights have continued as scheduled, as have the vital air ambulance flights.
EAAA keeps its two helicopters on permanent standby at the airport, having had a permanent overnight helicopter base here since 2007.
In July 2016 the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh opened EAAA’s new operating base, the Egerton-Smith Centre. The centre had been operational since December 2015 to provide work and rest space for the charity’s clinicians and pilots, support staff and volunteers and was constructed from pre -fabricated materials using money raised locally by regional supporters.
“It was thanks to Sir Michael Marshall that we were able to secure an airside lease to build our new Cambridge City Airport base in 2015. During the last 15 years, he truly helped us to save the lives of countless local people and we are externally grateful for his incredible support,” said EAAA of Sir Michael, who passed away last summer.
EAAA is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
While some of the country’s larger airports are struggling to survive the economic impact of the current pandemic, Craske says that being small, agile and part of a larger, independent group will help Cambridge City Airport weather these difficult times.
“No one could have foreseen the challenges we are currently all facing,” said Craske, “and while it is difficult for the entire industry, by focusing on excellent customer service and equine cargo, along with some UK and international military customers, we believe we can be more positive than many others.”