London City Airport Launches Public Consultation

London City Airport has launched a consultation on plans to extend the airport’s operating hours, including all day on Saturdays.

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Aerial view of runway and taxiways of London City Airport.
London City Airport (Image Credit: London City Airport)

London City Airport has launched a consultation on plans to extend its operating hours, including all day on Saturdays.

The airport, which first opened in 1987, has long been a popular choice for passengers seeking to avoid the crowds of Gatwick and Heathrow.

Due to the airport’s location in London’s Royal Docks, it has a number of operating restrictions to limit noise for local residents and those who live under its flight paths.

These include:

  • Only 6 aircraft movements are allowed in the first half hour of operations, 2 between 06:30 and 06:45 and 4 between 06:45 and 06:59
  • A maximum of 400 aircraft movements a year for delayed flights are allowed between 22:00 and 22:30 Sunday – Friday and 12:30 and 13:00 on Saturday
  • An 8 hour night time curfew on all flights between 22:30 and 06:30
  • A 24 hour weekend closure between 12:30 on Saturday and 12:30 on Sunday
  • Limits on the number of flights at weekends and on public holidays
  • A maximum limit of 6.5 million passengers and 111,000 aircraft movements a year

London City Airport’s Proposals

London City Airport has launched a ten week consultation from Friday 1 July to Friday 9 September 2022.

London City’s proposals focus on changes to its operations under its planning consent, rather than any significant extension of the airport infrastructure beyond existing plans. This is with the aim of serving up to 9 million passengers a year by 2031.

The consultation is now live at London City Airport. This is not a statutory consultation. London City Airport needs permission from the London Borough Of Newham before it can make any changes.

These proposals include:

  • A new maximum of 12 aircraft movements between 06:30 and 07:00
  • More flexibility to allow late arriving aircraft to land after 22:00
  • Allowing flights to operate between 06:30 and 22:00 on Saturday. The airport would remain closed until 12:30 on Sunday

To address concerns over noise only quieter aircraft such as the Airbus A220 aircraft would operate during the extended hours.

What Would Be The Impact Of These Proposals?

These proposals would allow incumbent airlines at London City, notably BA CityFlyer, to better utilise aircraft.

As is well known BA CityFlyer uses its aircraft to run weekend leisure flights from other UK airports due to the closure of London City.

More early morning flights would mean better schedules for business travellers doing “out and back in a day” trips.

What is unclear from these proposals is whether London City can attract more airlines and routes.

Following the departure of CityJet and Flybe, BA CityFlyer is by far the most dominant airline at the airport. BA CityFlyer has no plans to expand its existing fleet. Many routes suspended during COVID-19 have not been reinstated. BA also pulled its all business class service to New York JFK. Ambitions to develop more transatlantic routes are unlikely to be fulfilled.

It is a given these proposals will be strongly resisted by local residents and environmental groups, so are unlikely to be allowed in full.

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