Inside London City Airport’s Expansion Plans

As the popularity of London City Airport continues to grow, we decided to take look inside the Airport’s expansion plans.

London City Airport wants an extra 110 flights per day. Photo: Mark Finlay/Flickr

In a draft master plan revealed Friday June 29th, London City Airport is looking to increase the number of flights to keep up with demand. Currently, the airport has a limit of 111,000 flights per year but wants to increase that number to 151,000 by 2035. This would be an increase of 36%, which equates to 110 additional flights per day.

Campaigners meanwhile have described the airports proposed plans as a “disaster for residents“. This is despite the promise that the expansion will create 2,500 new jobs. Airport chief executive Robert Sinclair was asked by the BBC about the proposal, and responded that,

“[the plan is a] “long-term vision for London City Airport, detailing how London’s most central airport can meet continued demand sustainably, create jobs and opportunities for east London, and support the capital as a major global city for tourism and business. These proposals reflect the airport’s changing role, with an increasing proportion of leisure passengers choosing the airport, and East London’s continued transformation.”

Local residents oppose the plan

Opposed to the airports’ expansion is Hacan East, a group made up of residents that live under London City Airport’s flight path.

You can fly from London City Airport to New York on a BA A318. Photo: British Airways

When asked what local residents thought of the proposal, chairman of the group John Stewart told the BBC they were opposed to it, saying,

“For all its green talk, this plan would be disastrous for residents. Flight numbers could double from today’s levels. And, to rub in the pain, the airport is looking to ease the restrictions at weekends and in the early morning and late evening.”

The airport insists this would not be the case, as they intend to keep the eight-hour overnight closure w. They also say they would not allow any aircraft that are noisier than those already operating out of the airport.

Other parts of the master plan also describe how the airport will become more environmentally friendly by encouraging passengers to travel to and from the airport using public transport.

When was London City Airport opened?

London City Airport was built during the 1980s as a part of the regeneration of London’s Docklands. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in November 1987.

The airport became especially popular with business travelers after a light rail line to central London was opened in 2005.

Landing at London City Airport is like landing on an aircraft carrier. Photo:Wikipedia

In fact, London City Airport became so popular with business flyers, British Airways started a daily service to New York JFK, with an all-business class configured 32 seat A318. Due to London City Airport’s steep approach, the Airbus A318 is one of the largest aircraft allowed to land there.

Former Swiss Airlines pilot Peter Koch, told the Sunday Times that landing at LCY was like trying to land on an aircraft carrier. He said, “You come in steeply, there’s not a lot of runway, little parking space and it’s surrounded by water.”

Often described as being the closest you can get to flying in a private jet, the British Airways A318 can make the trip from New York to London non-stop. However, due to headwinds, the flight to New York stops in Shannon, Ireland, to refuel.

While this might sound a little off-putting to some passengers who would prefer a non-stop flight, it actually is not that bad, as you can clear United States Customs & Immigration at Shannon Airport.

This means that when you land in JFK, you arrive as a domestic passenger, so there is no need to wait in all those long immigration lines.

When London City Airport first opened, 81% of all passengers were using the airport for business trips, while today that number has halved, after airlines discovered they could cater to people going on holidays.

In the summer you have flights to the popular holiday destinations of Malaga, Ibiza, Mallorca, and Skiathos. In the winter this then changes to Milan, Geneva, Zurich and  Chambéry Al Bains for skiing holidays.


Right now London City Airport’s expansion master plan will be studied for 12 weeks before any decisions are made and the proposals are put before the local council.

Does London City Airport need to expand with Crossrail starting in 2021? Photo: Wikipedia

London City Airport is great for businessmen flying between European capitals and east Londoners flying off for a holiday, but with London Underground’s Crossrail service due to open in 2021 do they really need to increase the flights into LCY?

Not only will Crossrail make getting to Heathrow a breeze, but it will also connect with Southend Airport. Crossrail has also convinced Ryanair to open a hub at the Essex airport.

When talking about Ryanair’s new base with the Belfast Telegraph Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien said: “Ryanair guests traveling to and from London and the Essex area can now enjoy low fares on a choice of 13 routes through London Southend’s exceptionally passenger-friendly terminal.

“Southend Airport’s train station will deliver direct services from the terminal to London Liverpool Street and also the new Crossrail service opening in 2019, making the airport even more accessible from all parts of London.”

All this must surely be known by the residents opposed to the expansion and no doubt they will use this knowledge to try and block the airports’ plans. What do you think about London City Airport’s expansion? Should they be allowed to go ahead or is the airport already busy enough?