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London City Airport expansion plans take off in cloud of criticism

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 November 2012

Runway success... City Airport chief Declan Collier leads his team marking 25th birthday expansion

Runway success... City Airport chief Declan Collier leads his team marking 25th birthday expansion

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A £15 million expansion programme announced by London City Airport to mark its 25th anniversary has been criticised by campaigners over the increasing number of flights—double the restrictions imposed when it first opened.

Passengers boarding a BA jet on London City Airport runwayPassengers boarding a BA jet on London City Airport runway

Airport bosses celebrated a-quarter-of-a-century in expanding business yesterday with plans announced for more flights, new departure gates and passenger lounge facilities, including upgrading the International Arrivals hall.

The work is expected to take off early in the New Year.

Airport chief executive Declan Collier said yesterday: “The investment means we can absorb some European air traffic from other airports in the South East that are beginning to feel the strain.”

But the expansion year-on-year goes against the original planning when the airport was opened by the Queen on the former quayside in the Royal Docks on November 5, 1987, campaigners stress.

Only four airlines operated, with flights to just three destinations—Plymouth, Paris and Brussels.

Today, 25 years on, 10 airlines fly to 42 destinations across the UK and Europe, as well as twice-a-day to New York.

Hacan East, which represents families living under the flight paths across east London, has accused airport bosses of broken promises.

The government inspector at the original airport public inquiry in the 1980s restricted aircraft to quiet turbo-props rather than the jets that campaigners say proliferates today, and flights limited to 30,000 a year, Hacan pointed out.

“The airport has failed the families,” claimed campaign chairman John Stewart. “It’s just not believable that it had any intention of keeping the promises made 25 years ago. We’ve had a-quarter-of-a-century of expansion based on deception.”

City Airport, just three miles from Canary Wharf and six from the City, currently handles 70,000 flights a year—more than double when it opened—with plans to increase to 120,000 flights carrying 10 million passengers.

It also celebrated its millionth flight this year as well as its 36 millionth passenger.

Some 3.2 million passengers are expected this year to pass through the airport, with its 20-minute check-in and 10-minute arrival from tarmac to public transport links.

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