A record of 4.8 million passengers used London City airport in 2018.

The figure represents a 6.4% rise over the previous year although aircraft movements declined marginally to 75,271, with the passenger growth being achieved through larger aircraft and higher load factors.

The growth is set to continue this year based on new destinations and expanded airline fleets.

Two new services began yesterday with Eastern Airways operating a Newcastle service for Flybe and LOT Polish Airlines starting a Warsaw route. This will be joined by flights to Budapest on February 19 and Vilnius on May 1 using four new Embraer 190 aircraft.

British Airways will also add four additional Embraer 190s this year as part of a wider investment by BA CityFlyer in its London City base.

The new aircraft will add nearly 20% more seats from London City and enable the launch of new routes, including Munich from February 16 and Split in Croatia from June 21.

The Docklands airport will unveil a new brand identity later this year, described as being reflective of its strong commitment to London, growing catchment area and diversifying passenger base.

A new digital air traffic control tower will also begin to be tested, a global first for an airport of its scale, ahead of introduction in 2020.

A £500 million transformation of the airport is underway to raise capacity by two million passengers a year and more than 30,000 additional flights by 2022.

The new infrastructure includes a new terminal four-times the size of the existing facilities, eight new aircraft stands, and a parallel taxiway to improve the efficiency of the runway.

The busiest month of 2018 was July, when 471,519 passengers travelled – reflecting how an increase in leisure routes from London City is diversifying the mix of passengers beyond business travel.

The most popular outbound leisure destinations were Florence, Ibiza, Malaga and Mallorca with city breaks to Berlin and Lisbon also in the top 20.

The top routes overall were Amsterdam (621,803 passengers), Edinburgh (494,776) and Dublin (480,890) with notable year-on-year increases for the Belfast City route operated by Flybe (up 52.5%) and Milan Linate (up 46.5%) operated by BA and Alitalia.

TAP Air Portugal added a new service to Porto, Aer Lingus also began operating on the Dublin route, creating a connections to its transatlantic network.

The airport is also encouraging airlines to invest in new generation, more fuel efficient and quieter aircraft like the Airbus A220-100 currently flown by Swiss. Successful trials were held for the new Embraer E2-190 last year.

Airport CEO Robert Sinclair said: “In what was a remarkable year for London City Airport, we have seen demand reach a new peak, our airlines invest in new services, and passenger satisfaction increase.

“It’s proof that the fundamentals of London City – speed, convenience, connectivity and excellent customer service from the heart of London – remain very strong.

“As we take forward a transformative £500 million development programme, which will be complete in 2022, London City airport can play a much bigger role supporting this thriving international city, connecting London with established and emerging markets and serving a broader range of both leisure and business passengers.”

The top 10 routes by passenger numbers in 2018 were:
1. Amsterdam 621,803 (+4.5%)
2. Edinburgh 494,776 (+2.4%)
3. Dublin 480,890 (+2.7%)
4. Zurich 420,608 (+5%)
5. Milan Linate 361,081 (+46.5%)
6. Frankfurt 248,780 (+1%)
7. Glasgow 229,474 (-0.3%)
8. Geneva 195,001 (+0.6%)
9. Belfast City 183,965 (+52.5%)
10. Luxembourg 183,088 (+5.5%}