London City Airport to put terminal expansion plan on ice, due to Covid recession
London City Airport has put its plan to quadruple the size of its terminal on ice, as the Covid pandemic has decimated demand for air travel. City Airport is shelving £170 million of expansion work, which will mean loss of jobs. But it plans to continue with around £330 million of improvements this year, including eight new aircraft stands and a new parallel taxiway that will allow more arrivals and departures. The airport had been intending to finish the work on the terminal by 2023, and it could then cater for 6.5 million annual passengers. By contrast, in 2019 it had 5.1 million passengers. The airport said the recovery in air travel demand had been slower than expected, and its recovery (if it ever returns to 2019 levels) will take more years than thought earlier. The airport is owned by a consortium of investors including AIMCo, OMERS, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Wren House Infrastructure Management.
London City Airport to put major expansion plan on ice amid Covid recession
By JOANNA BOURKE (Evening Standard)
London City Airport has put a major plan to quadruple the size of its terminal on ice as the coronavirus crisis cripples the aviation industry.
In a serious blow for Government hopes that major infrastructure projects will rally the economy, City Airport is shelving £170 million of expansion work in a move likely to take a heavy toll on jobs.
The Docklands airport, popular with business flyers, called the halt just a day after official data showed the UK in the steepest recession in history.
It had planned to do a significant terminal expansion that would be ready for customers by 2023 and capable of serving 6.5 million passengers a year.
The airport last year served 5.1 million passengers.
Foundations have already been laid for the project which would have created new shops and a departure lounge.
However, airlines and airports have seen customer demand plunge due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, quarantine concerns and worries about Covid.
London City Airport said: “While over the summer there has been a return to flying, the recovery of the UK aviation market has been slower than expected with demand well below normal levels, including at London City.
“Furthermore, it has become clearer that the recovery to previous levels will take longer than initially expected.”
The airport owned by a consortium of investors including AIMCo, OMERS, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Wren House Infrastructure Management, secured approval for its £500 million development programme in 2016. It is aimed at providing new infrastructure to serve more customers.
Around £330 million of improvements will be complete by the end of the year, including eight new aircraft stands and a new parallel taxiway that will allow more arrivals and departures. But the rest of the scheme, including the terminal, will be paused.
Robert Sinclair, chief executive of London City Airport, said the company is ready to restart work when demand returns.
He said: “The airport and our shareholders remain very confident about the long-term prospects of London City and the vital role we can play in reconnecting London and the British economy as we recover from the shock of Covid-19.”
British Airways suspends all flights from London City Airport
British Airways has announced that it is suspending all flights from London City Airport from Monday 23rd March.
The suspension is initially set to run until Saturday 4th April although you would imagine that there is a high chance of this being extended.
Passengers will be transferred onto flights from London Heathrow or London Gatwick, or can claim a refund. As we discussed yesterday, anyone who chooses to cancel is being ‘encouraged’ to take a credit voucher rather than the cash to which they are entitled.
Sadiq Khan attacks London City Airport expansion plans – “unfettered growth is not an option”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he criticised its plans for expansion. He said residents must have a break from plane noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously. The airport, in a densely populated area of east London, is increasingly used for holiday travel – not business – and it wants to increase the current cap of 111,000 flights/year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. It hopes for 5 million passengers this year, but wants up to 6.5 million per year. The Mayor said the current plans “would not be in the interest of Londoners”. He said noise from planes was a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. Also that breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits. He said the airport must consider CO2 emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans, as its current target of “net zero emissions by 2050 “does not include flights – only airport terminals, vehicles, and other ground operations.
Tower Hamlets Mayor’s letter to London City Airport consultation, opposing changes that will negatively impact residents
The Mayor Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has sent a letter to the London City Airport consultation, to express his concerns about the airport’s expansion plans. This is in addition to the more detailed response sent by the council itself. Mr Biggs says: …”the negative impacts of increasing flights at LCA would be unacceptable in terms of increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change. The level of noise coming from aircraft needs to be tightly regulated and we believe lower thresholds for disturbance need to put in place. … To protect residents from noise disruption LCA must retain the current 24 hour closure of the airport at weekends between 12.30pm Saturday – 12.30pm Sunday to provide respite for our residents from the noise. To limit the level of disturbance caused to our residents the restrictions on early morning, late night and weekend flights should also be retained, …In Tower Hamlets we have declared a climate emergency and 40% of our residents live in areas with unacceptable levels of air quality. I would like to see further commitments by the airport on its plans to limit the amount of emissions from airport operations.” See the full letter.
Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion as “fundamentally flawed, due to lack of clarity & information”
Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport’s consultation on expansion with more daily flights – until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport’s Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation “fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information” in a letter to the airport’s chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the “omitted technical details”. “The significance of the mayor’s move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport,” said Hacan East chairman John Stewart. Newham Council which declared a “climate emergency” earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport’s plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth – pollution from aircraft – would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.