London City Airport shelves plans to extend operating hours – has to focus on post-Covid recovery
London City Airport has published its long-term vision for the future today, after a consultation with residents, passengers and stakeholders. Local community campaign group HACAN East had been concerned by suggestions the airport might seek to increase flights at the weekend, as well as earlier and later each day. But due to a huge fall in passenger numbers, the airport’s CEO Robert Sinclair says the focus “has to be on recovering” for the foreseeable future. But it still has the longer term ambition of 151,000 flights per year, up from around 82,000 before Covid, which campaigners fear will have a serious impact on residents and the environment – due to noise and air pollution (as well as carbon). Mr Sinclair said the airport will keep the expansion plans “under review” as the airport recovers from the impact the pandemic. Changes in future would need to go through the necessary consultation and planning processes. HACAN East chairman John Stewart said the news was a welcome development and the result of a “huge campaign” by both residents and local councils – and “Our concern remains that they would like to lift the annual cap on the number of flights to 151,000.”
London City Airport shelves plans to extend operating hours
4 December 2020
By Victoria Munro (Newham Recorder)
The airport published its long-term vision for the future today (Friday, December 4) after a consultation with residents, passengers and stakeholders.
Campaign groups like HACAN East were previously concerned by suggestions the airport might seek to increase flights at the weekend, as well as earlier and later each day.
However, following a huge drop in passengers due to Covid, CEO Robert Sinclair says the airport’s focus “has to be on recovering” for the foreseeable future.
Nonetheless London City Airport has not abandoned its long-term aim of 151,000 flights a year, which campaigners fear will have a serious impact on residents and the environment.
In response to “concerns raised by many who responded to the consultation”, the plans state the airport has “no immediate plans to extend the operating hours”.
However, it adds: “We will keep this under review as the airport recovers from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Should any future adjustments be proposed, these would be considered and consulted upon through the planning process before a decision is taken by the relevant authority.”
Mr Sinclair said: “It is clear that our focus has to be on recovering from the devastating impacts of Covid-19, supporting our communities and welcoming back passengers and airlines to London’s most central airport.
“While the shock of the pandemic has been significant, history shows us that aviation is an incredibly resilient industry as people’s desire to travel, whether for business or leisure, is never diminished for long.
“As the country plans its recovery, I am convinced that aviation will play a key role as the UK builds back better.”
HACAN East chairman John Stewart said the news was a welcome development and the result of a “huge campaign” by both residents and local councils.
He said: “Our concern remains that they would like to lift the annual cap on the number of flights to 151,000.
“Pre-Covid, the number of flights a year was around 82,000 so that’s almost double and would be a significant increase for local people. It’s a red line for us, we would be opposed to that.”
However, he said he did not believe the airport was likely to increase flights “any time soon” given the “massive difficulty” of recovering from Covid.
He added: “I think if there hadn’t been Covid, it would be a different matter altogether.”
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. secured approval for its £500 million development programme in 2016. It is aimed at providing new infrastructure to serve more customers.
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.