London City defends itself against calls for closure

London City defends itself against calls for closure

London City airport plans to push ahead with development plans in the face of calls for it to be shut.

The airport was accused last week of creating little value and it would be better off closed to make more efficient use of valuable land, according to a report from the New Economics Foundation think-tank.

But London City, which carried 3.3 million passengers last year and ranks as Britain’s 15th largest airport, slammed the report and pointed to expansion plans that are being driven through by shareholders, the Financial Times reported.

The Docklands airport says that these developments will double the number of passengers to 6 million by the end of the decade.

The airport – owned by US infrastructure fund Global Infrastructure Partners, which also owns Gatwick and Edinburgh airports – markets itself as providing a fast route to the capital’s business, financial and political centres. At present, these are the end destination for half its passengers.

Two-thirds of its travellers are on business, a higher proportion than at Heathrow, it adds.

The terminal has been granted permission to increase the number of flight movements from 70,000 to 120,000 a year – but it is waiting for planning permission to extend the terminal as well as construct a new taxiway, aircraft stands and arrivals building.

That would let it fly more flights and cater to wider-winged, next-generation jets such as the Bombardier C Series and Embraer E2, which could carry about 135-145 passengers, as opposed to those that fly fewer than 100 at present.

The addition of larger aircraft could open up other destinations, such as the Gulf, the Middle East, Russia, north Africa and the East Coast of the US. At present, British Airways business-class only flights to the US must stop in Ireland to refuel.

The planning decision is expected in July. Until then, London City is relying on creating a better customer service for existing passengers and has become the first terminal to test the ‘Internet of Things’ – whereby machines and objects are connected together via the internet.

Airport chief executive Declan Collier told the FT: “When you look at London’s aspirations to maintain and grow its position among global cities, connectivity is vital and we believe we play an absolutely vital part of that.”

Alan Haughton, of opposition group Stop City Airport Masterplan, said it had urged Newham Council to oppose the planning application.

The group argues that more flights would hinder the development of surrounding land, including a Chinese business park plan, because the law stipulates a “crash zone” must be left undeveloped around the site.

It claims that construction has already been affected, such as the Pinnacle tower in the City being forced to lower its height after a request from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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