London City Airport Closes Doors Until End Of April

London City Airport has closed its doors until the end of April under instruction from the UK government. The airport in the heart of London imposed the 36-day closure yesterday. As a gesture of goodwill, the airport will open the facility to support coronavirus recovery efforts.

SAS aircraft takes off from London City Airport
London City Airport shuts due to coronavirus. Photo: James Petts via Flickr

Travel through London City drops

Last year, London City Airport was thriving. In 2019, it posted a 6.3% increase in passenger traffic serving over five million customers in a single year. Now that’s changed. Today there are no passengers at London City Airport.

Yesterday, the airport announced that it would be closing its doors. As of the evening of 25th March, the airport will be temporarily suspending commercial and private flights. London City Airport has said that this is in response to government guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19. It’s likely that airport operations do not facilitate the rule of individuals being separated by 6ft (2m).

Another likely reason is that the airport experienced an 81% drop in flight activity over the past week.

In a tweet shared on 25th March, London City Airport said:

“At this point in the fast-moving and unprecedented situation, we think this is the responsible thing to do for the safety and wellbeing of our staff, passengers and everyone associated with the airport.” 

Who will this affect?

This decision will impact those airlines who operate out of London City. According to its website, London City is home to eight European airlines, including KLM and Alitalia. However, some of those airlines that operate out of London City Airport had already stopped servicing the airport before the closure was announced.

BA, Lufthansa, SWISS tail lineup
Some of London City Airport’s airlines had already suspended travel there. Photo: via Flickr

On 23rd March, British Airways announced that it would stop flying to London City Airport until 4th April. Instead, it will reroute passengers via London Heathrow or Gatwick. For British Airways, this move makes sense owing to the new dynamic in the UK’s capital city.

Many of the city’s workers are being urged to stay at home, tube services have been reduced and bars and restaurants are closed. The reduced footfall in London has been so significant that many London City Airport commuters are switching to other airports around London if they continue to travel.

Interestingly, however, London City Airport has said the closure will not affect its staff. According to its website, employees will continue working at the airport although there has been no clarification as to exactly what this means. We contacted London City Airport to find out more but it was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

London City Airport will be repurposed

Aircraft flies over London city airport
Despite the lack of flights, London City will remain open for the government. Photo: Getty

Whilst the airport’s normal operations are now at a standstill, officials hope that the establishment will not lay vacant or nugatory. The UK government will be able to use the airport as a hub to help manage the spread and treatment of the coronavirus.

In a statement about the closure on its website, London City Airport said:

“Now, more than ever, we want to help however we can. While commercial and private flights will temporarily stop, we have offered the use of London’s most central airport to the Government in case it can be used to support the emergency services, military or other government agencies. We will work with the authorities to support the national effort to combat the outbreak of this virus and provide care to people in need.”

The UK government does not yet appear to have taken up this offer.

Like most establishments and airlines in the aviation industry at the moment, London City is looking forward to getting back to normal. It has advised its customers to await contact from their airline if they were due to fly via London City Airport between now and April.

Share your thoughts on this story in the comments.