London City Airport’s chief executive’s vision for future

The departure lounge at City airport

The departure lounge at City airport - Credit: Archant

London City Airport is now 25-years-old and its recently appointed chief executive, Declan Collier, has been speaking about his vision for its future development.

The departure lounge at City airport

The departure lounge at City airport - Credit: Archant

The airport which was opened by the Queen in 1987 has already launched a public consultation on plans for major improvements over the next 30 years.

The City Airport Development Programme which encompasses new hard aircraft stands, a new taxiway and a larger terminal building. At the heart of the plans are the larger fleet of aircraft due to fly from the airport which need larger stands and a taxiway to get to the runway and make full use of it.

Declan Collier sees the airport as a magnet, as a conduit to enable growth and development in a post-Olympics east London, that goes hand-in-hand with the development of Silicon City, Digital City and a CleanTech City.

He said: “Plans for the east of London include a Digital City, a Silicon City and a CleanTech City – all centres of excellence for new and ground breaking technology. A key enabler of success for developments like these is transport connectivity, something that London City Airport (LCY) is well-placed to provide and in doing, act as a significant catalyst for growth. LCY is a gateway to this part of London, providing links to business centres all over Europe and facilitating inward investment.

“Siemens’ has its urban sustainability centre based here, and it is no coincidence that London City Airport has flights directly to two of the company’s European locations – Nuremberg and Paderborn. Another new German destination, Munster-Osnabruck, has a thriving clean tech community which now has easy access to all that east London has to offer.

“When the docks were thriving here, this area was a gateway to the world and was the source of the trading opportunities on which London grew great. In the 21st century, London City Airport can do the same thing, delivering trade and investment and helping east London fulfil its potential.”

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Declan said it was worth remembering the history of east London, particularly the Docks which had served as the gateway to the world in the 19th century when ships from across the globe brought goods to the country through this part of the city. London City Airport is delivering to east London in the 21st century what the docks did in the 19th – opportunities for trade and commerce and inward investment.

He also wants the airport to increase its leisure business, appealing more and more to families and the holiday market.

He said: “I was approached to see if I wanted to run London City Airport. LCY is unique not only because it is an airport that’s based in the centre of a city or the city that is a capital city, but its one of the few airports that is based in a global city.

“London is a pre-eminent global city both by dint of connectivity and the facilities if offers to the world.

“It is also based in a part of London that is growing the most. Within the next 5-8 years, 65 per cent of the total population that lives in London will live in east London. The centre of London is moving east.

“90 per cent of the new houses in London that are being built are being built in east London so we are seeing the growth of a population centre. London City Airport has a really wonderful opportunity to be a part of that and to realise something of the vision that the Government, the Mayor of London and the Mayor of Newham have.”

When LCY opened in 1987 it served three destinations, now it flies to 43. Declan says the airport will continue to grow over the next 25 years to serve an even wider range of destinations as London itself enters a more vibrant stage of life.

It currently serves three million passengers, 60 per cent whom are business travellers but Declan not only hopes to double the figure in the next eight to ten years but also increase its leisure business.

To that end British Airways has invested £1 billion in the last few years on a fleet of 14 Embraer aircraft with which it is opening up new destinations – this year has seen BA Cityflyer starting routes to Venice, Palma, Mahon, Quimper and Angers as well as making its service to Ibiza year-round.”

He said: “LCY is a key contributor to the success of east London, London as a whole and the UK as a nation, contributing £500 million to the British economy each year. The CADP will cement this role and its benefits to London business - particularly the airport’s role as an international gateway to Newham, the Canary Wharf business district and the City of London - through improving connectivity primarily to European business centres.

“It will also ensure that the airport can continue to act as a critical factor in inward investment decisions, helping to catalyse the ongoing regeneration of the area and will underpin the jobs of over 2,100 people employed at London City Airport and the future of the 50 companies that are located on site. The growth of the airport encourage further increases in job numbers – potentially up to 3,500 - and numbers of companies trading at the airport.”

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