The pilot killed in the London helicopter crash was on his way to pick up hospitality tycoon Richard Caring.
Caring, whose company Caprice Holdings includes some of London's most celebrated restaurants such as the Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey, said he was devastated by the death of pilot Peter Barnes, whom he described as a ‘very dear friend'.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, Caring was waiting to be picked up at Elstree airport in Hertfordshire, unaware that Barnes had decided to divert to Battersea heliport in south London because of bad weather. Caring, who is opening a London outpost of Balthazar, Keith McNally's famous New York restaurant next month, regularly travels by helicopter and was planning to travel to Yorkshire for business when the crash happened.
A friend of Caring's told the Daily Mail: "Richard is in complete shock. He was a very good friend of the pilot and had flown with him many times.
"On the morning of the accident he was waiting at the airfield but was not aware that the pilot had diverted. He is very upset by what has happened."
50-year-old Barnes died when the AgustaWestland 109 helicopter crashed into a crane at the side of the Tower at St George Wharf at 8am on Wednesday, near Vauxhall Station in south London.
His helicopter plunged to the ground 700ft below, killing Matthew Wood, who was walking to work.
A spokesman for Caring confirmed that Barnes was on the way to Elstree to pick him up on Wednesday 16 January.
In a statement, Caring paid tribute to Barnes. He said: "I flew with Peter Barnes for many years. He was a very dear friend and a very accomplished pilot. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this awful time. I am devastated for their loss."
By Kerstin Kühn
E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs