On 26 October 1987, a flight carrying around 40 passengers touched down from Plymouth in East London, on the peninsula between Royal Albert Dock and King George V Dock. It was the first commercial flight to land at London City Airport. The first arrival, operated by Brymon Airways, was followed by a Eurocity Express service from Brussels, both using De Havilland Dash 7 aircraft.
At the time, London City Airport was the first completely new airport to be built in the UK for 40 years, taking just 18 months to construct at a cost of £34 million. It has subsequently increased its route map to circa 50 destinations today, across 12 airlines, serving a combined total of over 55.5 million passengers since 1987 – each benefitting from the quick and convenient gateway on the doorstep of the UK capital city.
To coincide with the milestone, the airport has released updated CGIs by architects Pascall + Watson, which are illustrative of what the airport will look like after it undergoes the £400 million City Airport Development Programme (CADP), due for completion in 2021.
The privately-funded investment includes plans for seven new aircraft stands, a parallel taxiway to maximise runway capacity, and a world-class terminal extension to accommodate increasing passengers. The improvements will enable two million more passengers per year to use the airport by 2025 and add 30,000 additional flights per year, creating over 2,000 jobs and generating an additional £750m per year for the UK economy. The airport is also constructing the UK’s first digital air traffic control tower, operational in 2019.
Declan Collier, Chief Executive Officer of London City Airport, said: “Over the past 30 years, London City Airport has become an intrinsic part of London’s transport system; growing responsibly to a record-breaking 4.6 million annual passengers in 2016, creating local employment, and connecting business and leisure travellers with the UK, Europe and beyond.
“As we celebrate this anniversary, we look to a bright future ahead and the world-class transformation which is soon to commence. The City Airport Development Programme presents the opportunity to create an airport of the future, which will help meet demand in the London market, and increase connectivity.”
The seven artist’s impressions include several exterior views of an expanded airport, including the passenger terminal which will increase in size by around 40,000m². Enabling works are under way, with construction beginning early in 2018, with the delivery partner Bechtel.
The idea for an airport in London’s Docklands was that of Reg Ward, Chief Executive of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) and Sir Philip Beck, Chairman of the construction company John Mowlem & Co plc, who developed the concept following the closure of the docks to commercial shipping traffic in 1981. From the outset, the airport appealed to business travellers, whose journeys were made easier by its convenient location and proximity to central London, compact design, and speedy service.
On Thursday a free exhibition opens on Jubilee Walk in Canary Wharf, which brings to life the role the airport has played in East London’s regeneration. London City Airport: 30 Years in Photographs includes 52 images, including new aerial photography and amazing archive pictures. There is also new work by aviation photographer Ben Walsh, who has captured the present day view of several archive images conveying the compelling changes to London since the airport opened in 1987. The exhibition closes 7 November.
Over the course of the 30th anniversary year the airport has collected several awards in recognition of the service provided by its staff. In March, the airport collected Airport of the Year at the London Transport Awards and at the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2017 was recognised as Best Airport for those handling up to 5 million passengers per year. Last week the airport picked up the European Regions Airline Association Airport of the Year 2017.
30 years of London City Airport in facts
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