London City Airport

For the airport in Canada, see London International Airport.
London City Airport
Airport type Public
Owner Consortium of Alberta Investment Management Corporation, OMERS, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Wren House Infrastructure Management
Operator London City Airport Ltd.
Serves London, United Kingdom
Location Silvertown, London
Opened 1987 (1987)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 19 ft / 6 m
Coordinates 51°30′19″N 000°03′19″E / 51.50528°N 0.05528°E / 51.50528; 0.05528Coordinates: 51°30′19″N 000°03′19″E / 51.50528°N 0.05528°E / 51.50528; 0.05528

Location within Greater London

Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 1,508 4,948 Grooved
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 4,319,301
Passenger change 14–15 Increase18.4%
Aircraft Movements 84,753
Movements change 14–15 Increase11.2%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

London City Airport (IATA: LCY, ICAO: EGLC) is an international airport in London. It is located in the Royal Docks in the London Borough of Newham, approximately 6 NM (11 km; 6.9 mi) east of the City of London and a shorter distance east of Canary Wharf. These are the twin centres of London's financial industry, which is a major user of the airport. The airport was developed by the engineering company Mowlem in 1986–87 and is currently owned by a consortium of Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), OMERS, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Wren House Infrastructure Management of the Kuwait Investment Authority.[3]

London City Airport has a single 1,500-metre (4,900 ft) long runway, and a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P728) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flight training (but only for training necessary for the operation of aircraft at the airport).[4] Only multi-engine, fixed-wing aircraft with special aircraft and aircrew certification to fly 5.5° approaches are allowed to conduct operations at London City Airport.[5] The largest aircraft which can be used at the airport is the Airbus A318.[6]

London City served over 4.3 million passengers in 2015, an 18% increase compared with 2014. This was the largest percentage growth among London airports, and a record total for London City. It was the fifth-busiest airport in passengers and aircraft movements serving the London area—after Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton—and the 13th-busiest in the UK.[2]


Proposal and construction

The airport was first proposed in 1981 by Reg Ward, who was Chief Executive of the newly formed London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) that was responsible for the regeneration of the area. He in turn discussed the proposal with Sir Philip Beck (Chairman of John Mowlem & Co plc) and the idea of an airport for Docklands was born. By November of that year Mowlem and Bill Bryce of Brymon Airways had submitted an outline proposal to the LDDC for a Docklands STOLport city centre gateway.[7]

On 27 June 1982 Brymon Captain Harry Gee landed a de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 turboprop aircraft on Heron Quays, in the nearby West India Docks, in order to demonstrate the feasibility of the STOLport project. Later that year the LDDC published a feasibility study, an opinion poll amongst local residents showed a majority in favour of the development of the airport, and Mowlem submitted the application for planning permission.[7]

A 63-day planning inquiry started on 6 June 1983. By the middle of the following year, Nicholas Ridley the Secretary of State for Transport had indicated that he was disposed to agree the application, but asked for further details. The Greater London Council brought an action in the High Court of Justice to reopen the inquiry. After the High Court dismissed the action in March 1985,[7] outline planning permission was granted in May of that year, followed by the grant of detailed planning permission in early 1986.[7]

Construction began on the site shortly after permission was granted, with Charles, Prince of Wales laying the foundation stone of the terminal building, designed by R Seifert and Partners, on 2 May 1986. The first aircraft landed on 31 May 1987, with the first commercial services operating from 26 October 1987. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened London City Airport in November of the same year.[7]

Opening and runway extension

Plaque commemorating the landing by Captain Harry Gee at Heron Quays in 1982

In 1988, the first full year of operation, the airport handled 133,000 passengers. The earliest scheduled flights were operated to and from Plymouth, Paris, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. With a runway of only 1,080 m (3,543 ft) in length, and a slope of the glidepath of 7.5° (for noise abatement reasons), the airport could only be used by a very limited number of aircraft types, principally the Dash 7 and the smaller Dornier Do 228. In 1989 the airport submitted a planning application to extend the runway, allowing the use of a larger number of aircraft types.[7][8]

In 1990 the airport handled 230,000 passengers, but the figures fell drastically after the Gulf War and did not recover until 1993, when 245,000 passengers were carried. By this time the extended runway had been approved and opened (on 5 March 1992). At the same time the glidepath was reduced to 5.5°, still steep for a European airport (the slope of an airport glidepath is normally 3.0°), but sufficient to allow a larger range of aircraft, including the BAe 146 regional jet liner, to serve the airport.[7]

By 1995 passenger numbers reached half a million, and Mowlem sold the airport to Irish businessman Dermot Desmond. Five years later passenger numbers had climbed to 1,580,000, and over 30,000 flights were operated. In 2002 a jet centre catering to corporate aviation was opened, as well as additional aircraft stands at the western end of the apron. In 2003 a new ground holding point was established at the eastern end of the runway, enabling aircraft awaiting takeoff to hold there whilst other aircraft landed.[7]

Further expansion

de Havilland Canada Dash 7 making its steep approach to LCY from the west as another London City Airways DHC-7 prepares to depart to Amsterdam in 1988

On 2 December 2005, London City Airport DLR station opened on a branch of the Docklands Light Railway, providing rail access to the airport for the first time, and providing fast rail links to Canary Wharf and the City of London. By 2006, more than 2.3 million passengers used London City Airport.

In October 2006 the airport was purchased from Dermot Desmond by a consortium comprising insurer AIG Financial Products Corp. and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). In the final quarter of 2008 GIP increased its stake in the airport to 75%, the remaining 25% belonging to Highstar Capital.[9]

London City Airport was granted planning permission to construct an extended apron with four additional aircraft parking stands and four new gates to the east of the terminal in 2001; they became operational on 30 May 2008. They are carried on piles above the water of the King George V Dock.[10]

British Airways commenced the first scheduled transatlantic flights from the airport in September 2009, with a twice-daily service to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport using a specially configured Airbus A318 aircraft. (Technically, only the eastbound leg is transatlantic; on the westbound leg, as the plane cannot carry enough fuel due to take off weight limitations because of the short runway at the airport, the plane stops in Shannon Airport to refuel, during which time passengers avail of US border preclearance: the flight is then considered as a domestic flight for US Customs.) The A318 is the smallest airliner to operate transatlantic since BA's corporate predecessor, BOAC, began transatlantic jet flights on 4 October 1958, with the De Havilland Comet 4. The first day of the service, one week after Willie Walsh of British Airways pledged to the UN that aviation would deliver deep cuts in carbon emissions, was disrupted by activists from Plane Stupid and Fight the Flights dressed up in business suits.[11][12][13]

London Olympics 2012

Main terminal building
Apron view

Before the Games of the XXX Olympiad it was reported that over £7 million (in 2011) was invested in the terminal to extend the Central Search area and adding other improvements.[14] During the Games, though, the airport operated only restricted hours and experienced street block closures (for security), and the low capacity ramp and short runway excluded most long-range arrivals. However, it was the closest airport to Olympic Park, with normal scheduled travel by road of 15 min.[15]

Latest developments

In early 2013 work is expected to start on a £15m investment programme to refurbish the western pier with new departure gates and improved lounges and to redevelop the international arrivals hall and baggage handling areas.[16] The airport also has produced a master plan outlining their vision for growth up to 2030. The plan shows an expansion of the airport to a maximum capacity of 8 million passengers per annum, without the addition of a second runway, or significant expansion of the airport boundaries.[17]

In response to the UK government white paper The Future of Air Transport, the airport operators have produced a master plan outlining their vision for growth up to 2030. The plan was subject to public consultation during spring 2006, and has been republished incorporating comments from this consultation. The master plan shows a phased expansion of the airport, giving the capability of handling 8 million passengers per annum by 2030. It does not propose the addition of a second runway, or significant expansion of the airport boundaries.[17]

Phase 1 of this development would be undertaken by 2015. It would include the in-progress construction of the eastern apron extension and provision of a finger pier to the south of this apron to provide passenger access to aircraft using the new parking stands. The terminal building would also be extended to use the triangle of land between it and the railway station. The existing jet centre serving corporate aviation would be extended, a new hangar built to allow aircraft maintenance, and a replacement fire station provided.[18]

Phases 2 and 3 would be undertaken between 2015 and 2030. Further aircraft parking stands would be built to the east of the terminal, and a taxiway would be constructed alongside and to the south of the runway, to avoid the need for aircraft to back-track on the runway. Both these developments would involve further reduction in the water area of the King George V Dock. The existing fuel farm would be relocated to a site at the east of the airport, where it could be supplied by barge, and linked to a hydrant based supply system, thus eliminating both road tanker deliveries and on-airport fuel bowser movements. The existing surface car park would be replaced by a multi-storey car park, allowing extension of the vehicle drop-off and pick up area. The jet centre and hangar facilities would be further extended. Finally the existing terminal building would be replaced.[18]

In line with phase 1 of the master plan, London City Airport made a planning application to the London Borough of Newham in August 2007. This would allow it to increase the number of flights per year from 80,000 to 120,000 by 2010.[19] In July 2008, the Planning Officer for Newham Council produced a report on the Planning Application, recommending that planning permission be granted.[20] The decision was deferred by the Council's Development Control Committee at their meeting 30 July 2008, following a request from Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, that the decision be delayed until after a study by the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has been published.[21]

Over 10,000 local residents were consulted by Newham Council over the plan of which 1,109 replied, 801 with objections and 308 in support.[20] The 801 objections mainly concerned increase in noise, increase in air pollution, surface transport, socio-economics and regeneration. The 308 supporters mainly concerned the reduction of air pollution, an alternative London and 2012 Olympic gateway, additional jobs, and benefiting to the local economy.[20] The residents campaign group HACAN East (formerly Fight the Flights) is opposed to expansion due to noise and pollution issues.[21]

On 29 September 2009, Fight the Flights took Newham Council to court in order to challenge their decision to allow a 50% increase from 76,000 to 120,000 flights.[22] On 20 January 2010, the challenge was dismissed, and a deadline of 14 days to appeal was set.[23]

The plan was given the go-ahead in February 2015.[24] However this was overturned by Boris Johnson in March 2015.[25]

Later in 2015, Global Infrastructure Partners which owned 75% of the facility, put it up for sale, with the agreement of Oaktree Capital Management which holds the remaining 25%.[26] A sale to a consortium comprising Alberta Investment Management Corporation, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Wren House for £2 billion was confirmed in February 2016.[3] The sale was completed on 10 March 2016.[27]

On July 27, 2016, London City Airport was given approval by authorities for their 344m expansion plan.

In September 2016, British Airways announced to terminate one of its two daily long-haul all-business class services from the airport to New York City stating economic reasons.[28]


A BA CityFlyer Embraer 190 preparing to take off from London City Airport, with Canary Wharf in the background. (December 2014)

Owing to its proximity to London's Docklands and financial district its main users are business travellers, but the number of leisure destinations served (like Palma de Mallorca or Chambéry) has increased in recent years. London City is at its busiest during the winter months, when a number of airlines, most notably British Airways, Swiss and CityJet, fly to ski resort gateway destinations. Zürich, Geneva and Milan are among the destinations popular among winter sports enthusiasts.[29]

Due to the airport's proximity to Central London, it has stringent rules imposed to limit the noise impact from aircraft operations. This, together with the physical dimensions of the 1,508 m (4,948 ft) long runway and the steep glideslope, limits the aircraft types that can use London City Airport.

Mid-range airliners seen at London City include the ATR 42 (both −300 and −500 variants), ATR 72, Airbus A318, Bombardier Q400, BAe 146/Avro RJ, Dornier 328, Embraer ERJ 135, Embraer 170,[30] Embraer 190 and Fokker 50. On 30 January 2009, trials were completed successfully with the ATR 72–500, leading to its approval for use at the airport.[31] The Embraer 190SR underwent trials from 28 March 2009, and thereafter gained approval.[31] The Fokker F70, BAe Jetstream 41, Saab 340 and Saab 2000 also have approval for scheduled operations at the airport. A number of airlines including Swiss and Odyssey have ordered the Bombardier CS100 with the intention of operating it from London City once delivered and approved.[32][33] Corporate aircraft such as the Beechcraft Super King Air, Cessna CitationJet series, Hawker 400, Hawker 800, Piaggio Avanti and variants of the Dassault Falcon business jets are increasingly common. The airport is not available for use by single-engine aircraft or helicopters; recreational flights and single-pilot operations are also not permitted.[4]

The size and layout of the airport and overall complexity caused by the lack of taxiways mean that the airport gets very busy during peak hours. The air traffic controllers have to deal with over 38 flights an hour on a runway requiring a lengthy backtrack for each aircraft needing to depart from runway 27 or land on runway 09. Operations are restricted to 06:30 to 22:30 Monday to Friday, 06:30 to 13:00 on Saturdays and 12:30 to 22:30 on Sundays. These restrictions are related to noise.[1]

The size of the airport, constrained by the water-filled Royal Albert and King George V docks to the north and south respectively, also means that there are no covered maintenance facilities for aircraft.


Owing to its proximity to central London and its location in the London Docklands area, London City Airport is small compared with several other airports serving London, such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted or Luton. The airport features one single, two-storey passenger terminal building. The ground floor contains the check-in desks and some service facilities as well as a staircase leading to the security control on the upper level after which the airside waiting area and several more shops can be found.[34] The waiting area is connected to piers on both sides where corridors on the upper floor lead to the departure gates on the ground level. As the airport has no jet-bridges, walk-boarding is used on all stands.

Airlines and destinations

The following airlines operate regular services to and from London City Airport:[35]

operated by Alitalia CityLiner
Milan-Linate, Rome-Fiumicino
Aurigny Guernsey
British Airways New York-JFK1
British Airways
operated by BA CityFlyer
Alicante, Amsterdam, Berlin-Tegel, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Glasgow, Granada, Ibiza, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Rotterdam, Zürich
Seasonal: Aberdeen, Angers, Bergerac, Chambéry, Faro, Isle of Man, Menorca, Mykonos, Nice, Quimper, Santorini, Venice
British Airways
operated by Eastern Airways for BA CityFlyer
Hamburg, Isle of Man
Seasonal: Angers, Bergerac
British Airways
operated by SUN-AIR
Billund, Bremen
CityJet Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence (ends 25 March 2017),[36] Nantes (ends 24 March 2017),[36] Paris-Orly (ends 25 March 2017),[36] Rotterdam
operated by Danish Air Transport
Flybe Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast-City, Cardiff, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Exeter, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
operated by Blue Islands
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Amsterdam (resumes 6 February 2017)[37]
Lufthansa Regional
operated by Lufthansa CityLine
Luxair Luxembourg
SkyWork Airlines Basel/Mulhouse, Bern
Swiss International Air Lines
operated by Swiss Global Air Lines
Geneva, Zürich

^1 British Airways' flights from London City to New York-JFK include a fuel stop at Shannon Airport due to weight restrictions on departure from LCY. The stop is also used for US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance. (Meaning that passengers arriving in New York do not need to go through immigration.) It's not possible to buy a ticket solely for the London City to Shannon sector.



Passenger numbers at London City Airport saw rapid growth between 2003 and 2008, doubling from around 1.5 million per year to over 3 million during that period. Totals declined during 2009 and 2010, but have since recovered and in 2015 over 4.3 million passengers passed through London City, a record total for the airport.[2]

Number of
Number of
London City Airport passenger totals
1997-2015 (millions)
1997 1,161,116 34,605
1998 1,360,187 39,078
1999 1,385,965 44,376
2000 1,583,843 52,643
2001 1,618,833 57,361
2002 1,602,335 56,291
2003 1,470,576 52,856
2004 1,674,807 61,029
2005 1,996,397 71,105
2006 2,358,184 79,436
2007 2,912,123 91,177
2008 3,260,236 94,516
2009 2,796,890 76,861
2010 2,780,582 68,640
2011 2,992,847 68,792
2012 3,016,664 70,781
2013 3,379,753 74,006
2014 3,647,824 76,260
2015 4,319,301 84,753
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]


BA CityFlyer Embraer 170 at London City Airport
CityJet Avro RJ85 at London City Airport
Swiss Global Air Lines Avro RJ100 at London City Airport
Busiest Routes to and from London City Airport (2015)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % Change 2014 / 15
1 Edinburgh 532,857 Increase 51
2 Amsterdam 488,104 Increase 17
3 Dublin 451,474 Increase 46
4 Zürich 397,363 Increase 1
5 Frankfurt 240,973 Increase 4
6 Glasgow 238,413 Increase 15
7 Rotterdam 208,725 Increase 31
8 Luxembourg 186,941 Increase 4
9 Geneva 176,451 Decrease 1
10 Milan–Linate 164,168 Increase 14
11 Paris–Orly 123,214 Increase 35
12 Belfast City 114,940 Increase 518
13 Florence 95,725 Increase 32
14 Madrid 83,855 Increase 5
15 Ibiza 75,593 Increase 15
16 Aberdeen 63,343 Decrease 12
17 Düsseldorf 59,830 Decrease 9
18 Isle of Man 58,709 Increase 21
19 Antwerp 58,548 Increase 4
20 Málaga 51,879 Increase 15
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[40]

Ground transportation

Docklands Light Railway

London City Airport DLR station

London City Airport is linked to London's new financial district at Canary Wharf, to the traditional financial district of the City of London, and to Stratford International station adjacent to the Olympic Park, via the Docklands Light Railway, that offers interchanges with London Underground, London Overground, TfL Rail, Abellio Greater Anglia, c2c and Southeastern High Speed train services. London City Airport DLR station adjoins the terminal building, with enclosed access to and from the elevated platforms.

Road access

The Airport is served by the A1020 road and the A112 road. These give fast links to Canning Town, The City of London and Stratford, as well as connecting to the A13 and the North Circular Road (A406). Also the A13 provides easy access to the M25 motorway, as with the A406 connecting to the M11 motorway. The airport has both a short-term and a long-term car park, both within walking distance of the terminal and a taxi rank outside the terminal door.

Local Buses

The airport is served by London Buses services:

However, the express shuttle buses, which formerly ran to various destinations, were withdrawn after the DLR line was built.

Former access

Silvertown railway station on the North London line (now part of Crossrail) formerly served the airport. It was closed during construction of Crossrail. Proposals have been made for reopening.[41][42]

Accidents and incidents

See also


  1. 1 2 "London/City – EGLC". Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Aircraft and passenger traffic data from UK airports". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  3. 1 2 "London City Airport bought for £2bn by Canadian-led group". BBC News. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  4. 1 2 "The UK Integrated Aeronautical Information Package (IAIP) – London/City (EGLC)". Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  5. "Certification requirements for London City Airport" (PDF). Isle of Man Aircraft Registry. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  6. Steep approach | Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Airport History". London City Airport Consultative Committee. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  8. "Constructing the Airport". London City Airport Consultative Committee. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  9. London City Airport: Corporate Information Archived 22 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "London City Airport Master Plan" (PDF). London City Airport. November 2006. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  11. "BA aims to launch London City–JFK A318 service in Oct". 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  12. "Can 'son of Concorde' succeed?". The Independent. UK. 26 September 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  13. "Green groups slam BA over new business class-only flights". The Guardian.
  14. "London City Airport expects Olympics boost - Jobs, Recruitment, Travel Jobs, HR Jobs, Travel Agent Jobs, Business Travel Jobs and Jobs in Travel via C&M Recruitment Consultancy". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  15. Jason Hayward (2012-01-16). "6 Important Tips for Successful 2012 London Olympic Games Planning | Universal® Operational Insight Blog". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  16. "London City Airport", Airliner World: 7, February 2013
  17. 1 2 "London City Airport Master Plan". London City Airport. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  18. 1 2 "London City Airport Master Plan" (PDF). London City Airport. November 2006. pp. 24–26. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  19. "London City Airport Planning Application". London City Airport. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  20. 1 2 3 "Planning Officer's report on Planning Application" (PDF). London Borough of Newham. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  21. 1 2 "City flights decision is delayed". BBC. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2008.
  22. "Council sued on City flights rise". BBC. 29 September 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  23. "Residents lose City Airport flights court battle". BBC News. 20 January 2011.
  24. "Plan agreed for London City Airport despite objections". BBC News. 7 February 2015.
  25. "London City Airport: Mayor rejects expansion plan". BBC News. 27 March 2015.
  26. "City Airport on the Market". Airliner World: 6. October 2015.
  27. "Global Infrastructure Partners Announces The Sale Of London City Airport" (PDF). Global Infrastructure Partners. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  29. "History of London City Airport". Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  30. "ERJ 170 Approved for LCY". Aviation Today. 22 June 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
  31. 1 2 Kaminski-Morrow, David (10 February 2009). "Authorities clear ATR 72 for London City operations". Flightglobal. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  32. Ghim-Lay Yeo (2 June 2013). "Bombardier appears to name Odyssey as CSeries customer". Flightglobal.
  33. Ghim-Lay Yeo (17 June 2013). "Odyssey confirmed as CSeries customer". Flightglobal.
  34. Terminal Map
  35. - Timetables retrieved 16 December 2015
  36. 1 2 3
  38. Number of passengers including both domestic and international.
  39. Number of movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during that year.
  40. "UK Airport Statistics: 2014 – annual | Aviation Intelligence | About the CAA". Retrieved 2015-05-10.
  41. Silvertown Station - Crossrail Proposals - Crossrail Ltd. January 2012
  42. Regeneration
  43. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (2009-02-13). "Air Accidents Investigation: Avro 146-RJ100, G-BXAR". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  44. "BA jobs go after plane write-off". BBC News. 25 May 2009.

External links

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