London City Airport Frustrated by Boris U-Turn as Sale Looms
London City Airport, offered for sale by its US owner, has seen its growth plans fall victim to a political spat over the expansion of the UK capital’s Heathrow hub, Chief Executive Officer Declan Collier said.
Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to veto a £250 million proposal for aircraft stands, a taxiway and arrivals terminal, seven years after approving extra flights that the infrastructure would serve, stems from deep splits among policymakers over aviation strategy, Collier said in an interview.
While the CEO says he’s confident planning permission will be granted on appeal, the case won’t be heard before March. That means bidders being solicited by Global Infrastructure Partners must make an assessment without being sure City can reach a target of 6.5 million passengers a year by 2023.
“Boris is the man who gave us permission to increase annual flights to 120,000, and now he’s the man who is stopping us putting concrete on the ground,” Collier said.
“All I can surmise is that he feels that if he’s opposing the development of an airport in west London, how can he support the development of an airport in east London. I don’t think they’re comparable.”
London City, six miles from the main financial district, attracted 3.65 million passengers on 75,000 flights last year, with the size of aircraft limited by its short runway and noise curtailed by rules requiring steep takeoffs and landings. Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, had almost 471,000 flights and lured 73.4 million customers.
Johnson’s office said in a statement that the mayor had withheld planning permission because developing City would increase disruption from aircraft without being of “greater benefit” to the UK capital, while confirming that the Heathrow case had coloured his thinking.
“He has long argued that Heathrow airport cannot be expanded due to the increased noise it would lead to in west London, and he is not willing to expose east London to additional noise either,” it said.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland