By Vanni Gibertini
London City Airport Asks for Permission to Increase Passenger Numbers
London City Airport, one of the five airports serving the Metropolitan area of London, and one of the only two inside the M25 orbital, has filed an application to change its existing planning permission in order to increase its traffic by 38%.
Located in the East London Borough of Newham, just a few miles away from the City of London and its business district, London City Airport is subject to operational restrictions in order to limit the noise disturbance to residents of the area. The total number of flights per year allowed at the airport will remain at 111,000 and no change will be made to the 8-hour per night curfew imposed on operations. However, the press release issued by the airport on Tuesday reports that after a 10-week non-mandatory consultation involving 5,000 respondents, the request was filed to increase the number of total passengers from 6.5 million per year to 9 million by 2031.
Airport to Operate on Saturday Afternoons
Other requests contained in the filing include the extension of operational hours on Saturdays: currently the airport opens at 6.30 a.m. and closes at 12.30 p.m., but the plan is to delay the closure until 6.30 p.m., with an additional hour in the Summer for arriving flights only, up to a maximum of 12.
The initial plan submitted to the respondents involved in the consultation involved also a proposal to anticipate the opening hours by 30 minutes to 6 a.m., but the issue raised convinced the management at the airport to scrap this proposed extension, although the request to have three additional departures between 6.30 a.m. and 7 a.m. has been upheld, bringing the total number of flights leaving the airport during the first 30 minutes to nine.
On Sundays, the airport will continue to operate between 12.30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and the number of movements allowed during the last 30 minutes of operations each day will remain capped at 400 per year and only for later departures or arrivals.
Slots Reserved for Cleaner Aircraft
During the new hours of operations on Saturday and during the first 30 minutes of each day it will be possible to operate new flights only with next-generation, cleaner, quieter aircraft. Due to its proximity to the skyscraper at Canary Wharf, London City Airport has a steeper approach path than most airports: aircraft approach the short runway on a 5.5 degrees slope instead of the usual 3 degrees, therefore each aircraft operating at the airport needs to be appositely certified. Both the Airbus A220s and the Embraer E2s operating on new generation engines are certified to operate at London City and will have to be used to avail of the new slots during the additional opening hours.
Commenting on the plans, the airport’s Chief Executive, Robert Sinclair, said: “As we bounce back from the pandemic and demand increases, we need to ensure London City can accommodate the increase in business and leisure passengers forecast over the next decade or so, particularly as East London grows, and more and more passengers choose to fly through London’s fastest and most convenient airport. Most importantly, the proposals have been very carefully designed with input from our airlines to ensure that flying from London City becomes more sustainable, with more new generation aircraft, reducing noise impacts and emissions per passenger.”
“We are committed to working with our local community to ensure our plans work for residents as well as our airlines and passengers – said the London City Airport’s Chief Executive, Robert Sinclair – We have listened to the feedback provided in our extensive consultation, and have adjusted the proposals to reflect the concerns raised, including reducing the proposed increase in operating hours on Saturdays, reducing the proposed increase in flights in the first 30 minutes and retaining the existing limit on flights in the last 30 minutes. Our proposals will create more jobs, invest more money into the local community, fund better transport connections and improve sound insulation for local residents.”
Over 2,000 New Jobs
The growth in passenger numbers is going to create approximately 2,200 direct and indirect jobs in an area of London that has been particularly hit by the increase in cost-of-living in the U.K. Of these jobs, 1,340 will be directly created at the airport.
London City will also contribute directly to the Borough of Newham through a Trust established to distribute up to 3.8 million pounds ($3.41 million) to local good causes.