London City Airport remains closed due to an unexploded bomb found in the Thames, which police hope to remove by tomorrow morning.
All flights out of the east London airport were cancelled today, after the World War II device was discovered at King George V Dock. The airport will stay closed until the end of the day.
Almost 278,000 passengers travelled through London City in January, which offers flights to 44 destinations. The airport brought in 4,511,107 passengers last year, a slight decline on the 4,536,059 recorded for 2016.
“The unexploded ordnance was discovered as part of pre-planned work at London City Airport and reported to the police at 05:06hrs on Sunday, 11 February. Specialist officers and the Royal Navy have attended and confirmed the nature of the device,” said the Metropolitan Police.
“At around 22:00hrs on Sunday, 11 February an operational decision was made with the Royal Navy to implement a 214-metre exclusion zone to ensure that the ordnance can be safely dealt with whilst limiting any risk to the public."
The device was confirmed to be a 500kg tapered end shell measuring approximately 1.5m, and is currently lying in a bed of dense silt. Police said the first stage of the removal operation is to free the shell from the silt so that it can be floated for removal.
"The operation to remove the ordnance is ongoing in partnership with our colleagues in the Royal Navy. The timing of removal is dependant on the tides, however, at this stage we estimate that the removal of the device from location will be completed by tomorrow morning," the Met Police said.
"While every effort is being made to progress the operation as quickly as possible, it is important that all of the necessary steps and precautions are taken to ensure it is dealt with safely.
"We would like to thank everyone affected for their patience and cooperation. Every effort is being made to minimise disruption and officers continue to go door to door to ensure that those living within the exclusion zone are aware of the safety arrangements in place."
Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport, said: “The airport will remain closed for the rest of the day, following the discovery of a World War Two ordnance in King George V Dock on Sunday. An exclusion zone is in place in the immediate area.
“Any passengers due to fly today are urged not to come to the airport and to contact their airline for further information. I’m pleased to say some airlines were able to secure space at alternative airports so that some flights can operate – CityJet at Southend and Alitalia at Stansted. Thanks to those airports for stepping in to help out.
“I recognise this has caused inconvenience for our passengers, and in particular some of our local residents. The airport is cooperating fully with the Met Police, Royal Navy and London Borough of Newham to safely remove the device and resolve the situation as quickly as possible. The operation is proceeding well and we anticipate it to be completed during the course of this evening. At this stage we fully expect that the airport will be open as normal tomorrow.”
Passengers due to travel on Tuesday have been asked not to arrive more than two hours before their flight.