The boss of London City airport today issued a plea to allow expansion to go ahead to make better use of the capital’s existing airport capacity.
Chief executive Declan Collier raised the issue as a public inquiry into expansion at the Docklands airport opens today after London mayor Boris Johnson blocked the plans.
Writing in business newspaper City A.M. he said: “A decision by the mayor of London, taken against the recommendations of his advisers, blocked plans to expand London City airport through developing infrastructure to reach an already permitted number of flights.
“In 2015, there were 79,000 flights at the airport and our forecasts show this will grow to 111,000 by 2025.
“That’s an additional 32,000 flight movements a year in and out of London; capacity that can free up slots at Heathrow for long-haul by moving selected short-haul services to London City, and which can offer more choice to travellers over when and where they travel.”
The inquiry, which is expected to run for three weeks, will enable the airport to present its case for expansion.
“The Airports Commission recommended that the UK should make best use of existing capacity in the short term, before any new runway can be built.” Collier said.
“While a decision on that new runway continues to be delayed, it is crucial that we are allowed to deliver on this recommendation.
“Expansion at London City does not require a new runway or an extension to the existing one. It simply enables us to make the most of what we’ve got.
“Business travellers want to travel during peak hours and, as a result, we are full in the early morning and evening. We want to build a parallel taxi-lane to get aircraft on and off the runway quicker, to maximise runway use at peak times, and to accommodate around seven additional flights in the busiest hours.
“We also need to be able to manage more ‘next generation’ aircraft on the ground at one time, so we will build seven new aircraft parking stands. The stands will be bigger, enabling these larger next generation aircraft to operate out of London City.”
Swiss Airlines will soon add the Bombardier C-series to its London City fleet, a quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft that can fly further, to reach as far as the Middle East, Russia and the US.
“Our development has the potential to allow direct flights to these destinations from Zone 3, just 15 minutes on public transport from Canary Wharf and 22 minutes from Bank,” Collier added.
“The final piece of the jigsaw is expanding the terminal building itself. London City was built in 1987 to cater for up to 1.2 million passengers. Last year 4.3 million people passed through the doors and the building is struggling to keep pace.
“By extending the terminal, the airport can continue to offer the speed of transit it is well-known for - 20 minutes door to plane on departure and 15 minutes plane to train on arrival - while maintaining the levels of customer service and experience that have made London City a multi award-winning airport.
“A positive decision following the appeal will enable the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs – 1,600 airport jobs and a further 500 during construction. And it will enable the airport’s contribution to the UK economy to rise to £1.3 billion per year,” Collier argued.
“A decision on the location of a new runway in the south-east has yet to be made by the government. However, whatever it does ultimately decide, the runway is unlikely to be delivered before 2028 at the earliest.
“Better use of existing airport capacity must be made in the interim. London City already has permission to increase flight movements. We simply require permission to expand existing infrastructure to inject much-needed capacity into the London system, and it could be operational within two years.
“London City is the most punctual airport in London, and yet is being subjected to entirely avoidable delays. Let’s get growth off the ground now,” Collier concluded.
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