Opened in 1987, London City Airport is fast-approaching its 30th anniversary year. Situated just six miles outside the City of London, it occupies a unique place on the UK airports scene. Equipped with a single runway and terminal, ‘LCY’ is served by 12 airlines that, between them, fly to 46 destinations.
Provisional data indicates that London City handled 4.3 million passengers in 2015 – 18 per cent more than in 2014. On that basis, it exhibited passenger traffic growth beyond that achieved by all other London airports during the same period. The site’s current owners are GIP and Highstar Capital but a new consortium is now poised to take over. The site’s long-term operator is London City Airport Ltd.
London City Airport Origins
Plans for a new inner-city London airport first surfaced in late 1981. The following year, a landing assessment took place. This involved a Dash 7 aircraft – a turboprop-powered regional airliner specialising in STOL (short take-off and landing) operations. Could this type successfully land on – and take off from – the London Docklands area’s Heron Quays? On 4 June 1982, that question was answered in the affirmative: the site showed it was a viable airport location. By February 1986, planning consent was in place. Three months later, HRH Prince Charles laid down the London City Airport terminal’s foundation stone. Thereafter, progress towards full operational status was swift.
An airport-naming ceremony was held in February 1987. Two months on from that, (UK civilian aviation regulator) the CAA cleared two airlines – Eurocity Express (which later became London City Airways) and Brymon Airways – to use the site. Commercial flights got underway on 26 October 1987 and, on 5 November, London City Airport was officially opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II. By 31 December, 15,000 passengers had passed through. The following year, London City Airport handled 133,000 passengers. The early 1990s saw passenger levels briefly decline, only to rebound in spectacular fashion. 1997 saw the one million annual passengers mark passed for the first time and, in February 2002, London City Airport welcomed its ten millionth passenger. Ten years, five months later, it handled its one-millionth flight.
London City Airport Terminal
London City Airport’s two-storey terminal opens at 0500hrs Monday-to-Saturday and at 1100hrs every Sunday. It closes at 2200hrs Monday-to-Friday, at 1300hrs on Saturdays and at 2220hrs on Sundays. Inside can be found banking facilities, several retail outlets and a selection of places to eat and drink.
London City Airport Runway
London City Airport’s runway was initially 3,543 feet (1,080 metres) long. An extension, opened on 5 March 1992, took this runway to its present 4,948 foot (1,508 metre) length, widening its operational scope. Still, limits are in place. Owing to London City Airport’s dense urban location and local noise considerations, aircraft must approach the runway at a fixed 5.5-degree angle – two degrees more than the standard international airport approach angle. Partly for the same reason, single-engined aircraft operations are prohibited. Furthermore, since London City Airport has no taxiway, aircraft landing there have to then backtrack down the runway. The runway opens for business at 0630hrs each weekday morning and closes at 2230hrs each weekday night. The weekend London City runway opening times are 0630-1300hrs (Saturday) and 1230hrs-2230hrs (Sunday).
Aircraft Using London City Airport
The first aircraft to use London City Airport were London City Airways’ and Brymon Airways’ Dash 7s. A more comprehensive array of types has been introduced over the years, starting with the British Aerospace 146 – a four-engined ‘jetliner’. Initial BAe 146 London City landing trials took place in July 1988. Courtesy of the Swiss carrier Crossair, operations with this aircraft started on 30 March 1992. The largest aircraft now using London City Airport is the Airbus A318-112CJ, which British Airways has had in service since September 2009. Earlier that year, it too conducted preliminary London City landing trials. Now, two British Airways A318s carry out regular Club World London City flights between LCY and New York JFK, via Shannon. Other aircraft using London City Airport include the Dornier 328, Embraer ERJ 135, E170 and E190, ATR 42 and Bombardier Q400. Pre-flight, all are boarded from ground level (‘walk-boarded’), since this airport’s infrastructure does not include air bridges.
London City Airport Destinations And Airlines
London City Airport currently serves 46 destinations. The airports concerned are: Aberdeen International, Amsterdam, Angers-Loire, Antwerp International, Avignon-Provence, EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg, Belfast City, Bergerac Dordogne Périgord, Bern, Billund, Chambery, Cork, Deauville-Normandie, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Exeter International, Faro, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Glasgow, Granada (Federico García Lorca), Guernsey, Hamburg, Ibiza, Isle of Man, Jersey, Luxembourg Findel, Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas, Mahon, Malaga, Milan-Linate, Mykonos Island National, Nantes Atlantique, New York JFK (via Shannon), Nice Côte d'Azur, Palma de Mallorca, Paris Orly, Quimper-Cornouaille, Rome (Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino), Rotterdam The Hague, Santorini (Thira) National, Toulon-Hyères, Venice Marco Polo and Zurich.
Twelve airlines, representing seven nations, presently operate from London City, namely Alitalia (Italy), Aurigny (Channel Islands), Blue Islands (Channel Islands), British Airways, CityJet (Ireland), Flybe, KLM (the Netherlands), Lufthansa (Germany), Luxair (Luxembourg), SkyWork Airlines (Switzerland), SunAir (Denmark) and Swiss International Airlines.
How To Get To London City Airport
London City Airport is about a 15-minute drive from London’s financial district and can be accessed via the M11 motorway or the A12 road. A shuttle bus service links it to several London Underground stations but London City Airport also has its own station. One of 45 such stations on the Docklands Light Railway light metro system, it opened in December 2005 and is located just west of the airport.
57 hectares/ 130 acres
One – 09/27, 1,508 metres/4,948 feet long
4.3 million approx. (2015)
Annual aircraft movements:
London City Airport infrastructure image copyright/courtesy British Airways Dash 7s image copyright RuthAS – courtesy Wikimedia Commons British Airways Airbus A318 image copyright Paul Fiddian London City Airport light trails image copyright Aleem Yousaf - courtesy Wikimedia Commons London City Airport departure gate image copyright/courtesy British Airways
London City Airport British Airways A318 footage courtesy/copyright 'lcypr'