Coronavirus: Call to shut London City Airport to curb spread

London City Airport. Picture: LCY

London City Airport. Picture: LCY - Credit: London City Airport

A call has been made for airports including London City to close in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Alan Haughton, who has campaigned to retain 24 hour weekend flight restrictions at the Royal Docks based airport, said: “All airports in the south east and London should close immediately, with one remaining open to facilitate any emergency flights and cargo.”

He added Heathrow would be the obvious choice with passengers who arrive there having their temperatures taken and asked to self-isolate as they disembark from planes to avoid crowds in terminal buildings.

“With seven airports across London and the south east we need to try to isolate any risk to one location,” Alan said.

The hub based in Hartmann Road has already seen a decline in passenger numbers since the outbreak of Covid-19 along with the rest of the country’s aviation industry.

A London City Airport spokesman said: “We welcome the government’s recognition of the vital role airlines and airports play in the UK economy and its support for the industry at this extraordinary time.

“Our priorities right now are keeping our passengers and everyone at the airport safe, our staff in jobs, supporting our airlines, and ensuring that we are ready to return to normal operations as soon as possible when demand for air travel returns.”

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Airport staff are working with Public Health England and the Department for Transport on safety with hand sanitising stations and an information campaign promoting good hygiene.

John Stewart, chairman of campaign group HACAN East, said there should be strict limitations introduced to prevent passengers potentially spreading the virus, but no total air travel ban.

“There are some calls to ban all flights, but I’m not sure that’s realistic or helpful. There will be essential supplies and people, such as doctors, who will need to come in,” he said.

He added that restrictions should be as tight as possible, but that a lot of this will happen as a consequence of people no longer travelling.

British Airways (BA) has announced it has moved customers due to fly with the carrier to or from London City onto services operating to or from Heathrow or Gatwick from Monday, March 23, to April 4.

A BA spokesman said: “We are contacting customers to discuss their options.”

The change is thought to reflect business passengers’ travelling habits with London City mainly serving the capital’s financial district.