London City Airport Expansion Plans Rejected

The local council has rejected plans to grow passenger numbers to nine million annually and extend operating hours.



July 11, 2023

DALLAS - London City Airport’s (LCY) expansion plans have hit turbulence after Newham Council voted unanimously to reject the proposals. The move comes after some 1,600 local residents and eight other London councils raised concerns over the plans.

The airport had hoped to grow passenger capacity from five million passengers per year to nine million by 2031 and extend its flying hours. However, councillors on Newham’s Strategic Development Committee refused the bid citing concerns over noise pollution and other environmental impacts.

BA CityFlyer G-LCYD Embraer 170-100STD. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

The Plans

A 25-year curfew has been in place at the airport, which means no flights can operate from LCY between 13:00 local time on Saturdays until 12:30 on Sundays to ease noise pollution for nearby residents. LCY wished to extend these hours until 18:30 local time, plus an extra hour during summer seasons for arriving flights. From Monday to Friday, three additional flights would also be added between 06:30 and 07:30.

The airport had offered firm commitments to local residents that only new and quieter aircraft would be allowed to operate during these extended hours. LCY also said that the expansion would significantly increase the number of jobs available and offer more choice of destinations for local businesses.

The application, submitted in December 2021, will now be referred to the GLA for a final decision for a Stage 2 referral.

A spokesperson for the airport said it was “disappointed” by the decision. “We firmly believe in our proposals, which are carefully balanced and make best use of our infrastructure. We are actively considering next steps.”

The airport is located in the heart of London's business district. Photo: Christian Winter/Airways.

Keeping up with Demand

LCY isn’t the only London airport looking to expand capacity as passenger demand soars. London Gatwick (LGW) wants to put its second “northern” runway, currently used for taxiing only, into regular use. The £2.2bn proposal could see passenger numbers soar to 75 million annually.

Last week London Stansted (STN) announced plans to expand its terminal building. This would allow the airport to enhance capacity during peak hours and better serve increased passenger numbers in the future.

Meanwhile, London Luton (LTN) has plans to increase capacity to 32 million passengers per year with a new terminal building, new taxiways and new aircraft parking stands. Then there’s the ongoing review of London Heathrow’s (LHR) proposal for its controversial third runway.

The London area has the busiest airport systems in the world. In 2022 the combined facilities (LHR, LGW, STN and LTN) handled over 130 million passengers, with all four airports being the top five busiest in the country.

Featured Image: LCY London City Airport runway. Photo: Iain Marshall/Airways.