JSA Landscape Group has won the grounds maintenance contract for Heathrow Airport, to add to its existing Gatwick and City Airport contracts, after eight years of subcontracting.
The Staines-based company was due to start the three-year £3m contract on 31 October, taking on 18 staff from former contractor OCS. It has also worked for Connaught, Glendale and Fountains on the site.
The contract follows a grounds maintenance job won this month at a private housing development in Osterley, west London, worth £35,000 and a year's extension on JSA's three-year Gatwick Airport contract.
The deal bumps up JSA's yearly turnover to around £5m, with £1.8m from the three airports, all run by the British Airport Authority (BAA). JSA has 35 staff. It also subcontracts at Ministry of Defence airfields as well as Southend and Southampton Airports and secured a three-year contract at City Airport in 2012. It looks after some 5,000ha of airfield in total.
At Heathrow, JSA will look after 300ha of airside work as well as the airport landscape perimeter, including seven biodiversity sites that have won Wildlife Trust awards. The team includes three conservation rangers.
Business development director David Mulholland said: "It's a huge contract and very prestigious. We are very pleased to be working at Heathrow. It's nice to be working with a company that recognises the value of landscape and biodiversity. We have a lot of experience airside but also in grounds maintenance for blue-chip company headquarters."
He added that there are no plans to reduce staff numbers or radically change working practices. "The current team is doing a good job and we want to continue that," he said. But the company wants to take on more apprentices.
Working airside brings its own challenges, said Mulholland. Grass has to be kept at 150-200mm to deter birds and minimise the threat of bird strikes. The team uses 8m-wide Schulte batwing rotary mowers to cover a lot of ground.
All staff and kit must have identification and go through daily security checks. Contract manager Michael Nowick will run the team, reporting to JSA operations manager Hilton Bartlett.
Contract detail - Royal garden maintenance
The Heathrow contract includes maintaining a high standard of horticulture at the royal garden attached to the royal suite used by the Queen and the royal family when they fly. It includes fine lawns, ground-cover plants such as lavender and conifers as well as bedding.
"Generally they go for red geraniums - they put up with a hostile environment," said JSA Landscape Group business development director David Mulholland. "There's a lot of wind airside. We have yellow winter pansies just going in now," he added.